What do we mean by “Most Restrictive Options?”
Some adults with severe disabilities may need a full guardian to help with or manage their personal affairs. This may include taking “reasonable care of his ward's clothing, furniture, vehicles and other personal effects and commence protective proceedings if other property of his ward is in need of protection." (see 18-A MRSA §5-312)
Unlike other legal approaches such as trusts or powers of attorney, which are private, guardianship involve formal court processes which are public. This means that the documents & decisions included in guardianship filings can be obtained by anyone who is interested through the Probate Court offices and online.
Full guardianship is considered the most restrictive option because it significantly restricts a person’s rights and freedoms, and may be considered long-term appointments.
The court makes an order that gives the guardian power to make decisions in a certain area of a persons life (such as money management, living arrangements, or major health care decisions); the person keeps the right to make all other life decisions.
The court will not always offer limited guardianship as an option. Its okay for the petitioner to ask for limited guardianship as a less restrictive alternative to full guardianship. In fact, a petition for limited guardianship is a good opportunity for the adult with diminished capacity to participate in the court process & tell the judge at the hearing what he/she can & cannot do.