How to Research Alternatives to Full Guardianship

TIPS to help you begin:

Step 1: List the reasons why an individual is considering guardianship. What particular needs or problems will guardianship solve?
Step 2:

Make a list of the community resources and unpaid support systems in an individual's life and surrounding areas.

Think creatively and keep an open mind. Explore how family, friends, and community resources can be engaged to help individuals live independently. Do not rule out options yet.

Step 3:

Identify a person and/or agency that can help you sort through the supports and resources you have identified. You might enlist someone at your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) or Disability Rights Center (DRC) or ask a caseworker, a legal services representative, a social service agency staff member or a Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) staff member for help.

Step 4:

Work with this person to create a revised list of support options that will address the needs and problems identified in Step 1.

Step 5: As you review and decide upon options, include family members, friends, and/or advocates in the discussion. Bounce ideas off of friends or relatives who are "outside" the situation and may have fresh perspectives about how an individual's needs might be met.
Step 6: Select the support option (or group of options) that allows the individual to hold on to as much independence and decision-making power as possible.
Step 7: If full guardianship seems like the most appropriate and desirable option, make sure the benefits of having a full guardian will outweigh the restrictions and loss of rights the individual will experience under full guardianship.
Step 8: Remember an individual's circumstances and support systems change. Revisit solutions and make adjustments as the individual's condition improves or deteriorates.

Select Alternatives to Full Guardianship

Alternatives to Full Guardianship

Least Restrictive Alternative:

Individual retains full independence and full decision- making power. No court involvement.

Community Resources/Unpaid Supports:

  • Increased support from family and friends
  • Statement of consent to keep parents involved
  • Community agencies: e.g. AAA, Meals on Wheels
  • DHHS programs and case workers

Money Management Strategies w/o court order:

  • Representative payee
  • Bill payment services
  • Joint checking accounts

Other Alternatives:

  • Mediation to help resolve a dispute

Middle Ground:

Individual retains some but not all control over decisions in their life. Limited court involvement.

Common Legal Arrangements:

  • Living will
  • Special needs trust
  • Advance directive - mental health or medical
  • Power of attorney - medical or financial

Limited or Temporary Guardianship:

  • Limited or temporary medical guardianship
  • Limited or temporary residential guardianship
  • Limited guardianship can be tailored to address an individual's needs based on what is requested in court.

Most Restrictive Alternative:

A guardian has full decision-making control over all areas of an individual's life. Requires a court order.

Most Restrictive Alternative:

  • Conservatorship: Limited, temporary, or full

Full Guardianship

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