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Guardianships - Massachusetts
A guardian is a person appointed by the court to make decisions about health care and personal matters for an adult who is incapacitated. In most states, statutes define "incapacitated" as being unable to make or communicate the decisions necessary to provide for the person's essential physical health and safety.
A guardian is typically a family member or an attorney appointed by the court to make decisions for a person regarding health care, personal affairs, and financial matters. A guardian may collect and invest the assets of the person requiring guardianship and assist the individual with paying bills and making living arrangements and medical decisions.
For adults, typically the guardian determines health care treatment including end of life decisions, placement, and visitation. Authority is very broad. Generally, these decisions do not require prior court approval.
Appointing a Guardian
The process begins when an attorney representing a family member or other concerned person (called the petitioner) files a petition with the court that includes facts showing the respondent is incapacitated. The petition often asks the court to appoint a guardian and a conservator. The respondent has to be personally served with a copy of the petition and a notice about his or her rights. Copies of the petition and notices about the guardianship case must be mailed to the respondent's closest relative(s) and other people and agencies required by the law. The respondent can object to the guardianship or the proposed guardian. Other people can also object. Objections are only filed in a small number of cases.
The judge appoints a court visitor to interview the people involved in the case and to write a report for the court. If no objections have been made and the court visitor's report supports the guardianship, the judge will usually sign an order appointing the guardian. Once a guardian has been appointed, the respondent is called the protected person.
Powers and Duties of a Guardian
The guardian has the powers included in the order signed by the judge. Usually, the guardian will have the power to decide where the protected person lives, to make arrangements for the person's care and safety, and make health care decisions. If there is no conservator, the guardian may be responsible for caring for the protected person's belongings and a limited amount of money.
The guardian must file a report with the court every year with information about where the protected person lives, the services that the protected person receives, and his or her physical and mental condition. If the guardian is taking care of money, the report has to include information about the money.
The Massachusetts elder law attorney at Connelly Law Offices, Ltd. has acted as a guardian for hundreds of individuals in the community in assisted living residences, skilled nursing facilities, and hospitals.
Is a Guardian Always Required?
Some people who might otherwise need a guardian can be served less restrictively. This includes advance medical directives or healthcare proxies, finding personal caregivers, using Powers of attorney, assigning representative payees, and developing appropriate Trusts. At Connelly Law Offices, Ltd., we can help you determine how best to help your loved one manage their finances and affairs.
Guardian ad litem
Another type of guardianship is a guardian ad litem (GAL). This is when a judge appoints a person to represent a person who cannot be present in court. The guardian is responsible for protecting the rights and interests of that person during a single court case. A GAL is appointed in cases mostly involving children or incapacitated individuals. GALs are only responsible for helping that person resolve their court case. The Massachusetts elder law attorney at Connelly Law Offices, Ltd. has handled hundreds of GAL cases during our decades of practice.
Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut Certified Elder Law Attorney
"An experienced guardianship attorney at Connelly Law Offices, Ltd. can assist you in drafting and filing a petition for guardianship, or we can act as a guardian. During our decades of practice, we have served as guardians for hundreds of individuals in the community, assisted living residences, skilled nursing facilities, and hospitals and understand our vital role in the protected person's life. Contact us today."
---- RJ Connelly III
"Southern New England's Certified Elder Law Attorney"
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