A guardianship is one method of maintaining the safety and well-being of individuals who are incapacitated and unable to take care of themselves. There are several types of guardianships based upon the extent of the guardian’s control and what type of individual the guardian oversees. Given the various laws and complexities regarding guardianship in Massachusetts as reflected in the state’s guidelines on guardianship, it is a wise idea to consult with a lawyer who is familiar with how guardianships are handled in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

  • Guardianship of an Adult. Courts appoint one individual guardian of another adult only in situations when a person’s judgment or incapacity poses a substantial threat to the well being of that individual.
  • Guardianships for Children. Various laws in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts allow parents to appoint an individual to take care of and assume custody of child in situations like death or incapacity where the child is left without a custodian. The individual who is selected for guardianship of a child may be nominated by an individual. Nominations are frequently included in the estate planning devices of a deceased individual. In the absence of a nomination regarding a guardian, a judge must make the decision regarding what individual will become guardian of the children.
  • Guardianship Depends Upon The Extent of Control. In Massachusetts, state law divides guardianship between guardianship of a person and guardianship of an estate. Guardianship of a person allows the guardian to make decisions regarding the person’s wellbeing. When an individual is appointed guardian of an estate, that guardian is given the ability to make financial decisions on behalf of the person in addition to being able to manage any financial property that individual might possess.
  • How the Guardianship Process Proceeds in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. While the appointment of a guardian for an adult can be infinitely more complex, there are several steps that frequently occur when an adult’s guardian is selected. First, an individual should be evaluated by a medical professional to determine whether that individual is incapacitated or unable to care for themselves. Another individual must then file a petition in Probate Court requesting that a guardian be appointed for an incapacitated individual. The Probate Court requires that the incapacitated individual and the incapacitated individual’s heirs are notified of the petition. A hearing is later held in which a judge determines whether a guardian should be appointed over the incapacitated individual.
  • Temporary Guardians. In some situations, a temporary guardian can be appointed for a limited amount of time or until a permanent guardian is selected.
  • Situations When A Guardianship Ends. A guardianship ends in only several specific types of situations include the death of the incapacitated individual, the incapacitated individual establishing competency, the guardian dying, the guardian resigning, or the guardian being removed by the Probate Court.

Common Questions About Guardianships

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Resources for Guardianships

Handbook for Massachusetts Guardians

Guardians of Children and Other Non-Parent Caregivers

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