Many Massachusetts residents likely pride themselves on being independent and making their own decisions for their lives. While this ability is often cherished, it is not always one that individuals are able to maintain for the entirety of their lives. In many cases, elderly individuals or other adults become incapacitated, and guardianships become needed in order for decisions to be made.
Elderly parties who develop dementia or other mental incapacities may often first come to mind when thinking of adult guardianship. However, any individual over the age of 18 who cannot make sound decisions for him or herself may need a guardian. Intellectual or developmental disabilities can present such a need as well as mental illnesses or incapacitating accidents.
When it comes to guardianship appointment, the court typically steps in to make a decision. A person who wishes to become guardian may petition the court in hopes of gaining that appointment. In many cases, a family member is the first choice, but if there is no family member available or willing to take on the position, a public official may be appointed to take over the necessary duties.
In ideal cases, individuals would appoint a power of attorney agent before incapacitation takes place in order to ensure that a trusted party is in charge of decisions. Of course, not everyone takes advantage of this estate planning option, and family members may need to petition for guardianships themselves. In order to gain reliable information on such legal topics, interested Massachusetts residents may wish to consult with knowledgeable attorneys.
Source: nhpr.org, "The Legal and Emotional Challenges of Adult Guardianship", Aug. 2, 2017