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A guardianship is a court-ordered relationship in which one adult is authorized to make decisions for, and act on behalf of, another adult person. Probate Court handles all guardianships and serves as the superior guardian for individuals assigned a guardian. It is important to remember that in a guardianship, the person loses rights and the ability to act for him or herself. The type and scope of the guardianship can vary and determines what rights and abilities the person loses

Least Restrictive Alternatives to Guardianship

Conservatorship: A voluntary trust relationship using guardianship laws and procedures as the basis for one party, called the conservator, to act with Court supervision for a competent adult. In order to establish and maintain the conservatorship, the adult must remain competent and continue to consent to the relationship. 

Supported Decision Making: A process by which a person with a disability has a relationship with another person or agency (i.e., family, friends, staff, volunteers, advocates) to assist in the person's decision-making and communicating those decisions. This person or group of people can ensure the individual has a support system in place and advocates for the individual.

Chosen Representative: A person receiving services in the developmental disabilities system can authorize an adult to make decisions about programs and services if the person does not wish to have a guardian and is not comfortable making independent decisions. 

Power of Attorney: A written authorization for a person to act as an agent on behalf of another individual. It can be used for financial or healthcare purposes. A power of attorney can be made “durable” which states that if the signer later becomes incapacitated, the agent retains the rights granted.

Representative Payeeship: An arrangement established through the Social Security Administration for monthly payments to be made to the representative payee for the benefit of the individual with a disability. The payee can pay bills and distribute money for the benefit of the individual. 

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