Understand your rights and responsibilities as a guardian

On Behalf of | Feb 1, 2024 | Estate Planning

It is never easy to address the needs of an incapacitated or ill loved one. For Massachusetts residents who are faced with this issue, it is important to be aware not just of how to provide them with the medical care and assistance for daily living they might need, but how to legally oversee their affairs.

This is often categorized as caring for elderly parents, grandparents and other relatives. It can, however, apply to anyone. A guardianship is a way for a person to be responsible for another person if they cannot do it themselves. It is for someone who is deemed incapacitated, meaning they have a condition that prevents them from making or expressing their decisions.

Types of guardianships and the responsibilities

When seeking a guardianship, it is essential to understand what kinds are available and the responsibilities the guardian will be taking on. When requesting the guardianship, the prospective guardian – known as the petitioner – will need to provide information about the person they will be caring for.

There are two choices: a plenary guardianship and a limited guardianship. The plenary guardianship is also called a complete guardianship and is for those who are unable to make decisions for themselves. The limited guardianship accords the person who is being cared for some freedoms. They might not need help in every aspect of their life. They could be able to live where they want and express that desire. Still, they could have problems making their own financial decisions or choosing medical treatment.

The guardian must serve the incapacitated individual’s best interests. That includes knowing what their desires would likely have been if they were making the decisions on their own. If the incapacitated person moves to a new location such as leaving their own home to live with the guardian, the guardian must inform the court. If the incapacitated person dies, the court must also be informed.

Guardianships are a major responsibility

People who decide to become guardians are taking on an immense responsibility. In many instances, it is necessary to ensure their loved one is protected. Still, it is important to be aware of the legal ramifications of guardianships and if it is the wisest strategy. Knowing the law and how guardianships are handled is vital to make certain the document withstands scrutiny and serves its purpose.