Purpose and Types of Guardianship in Massachusetts

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The legal process of appointing a guardian to care for and make personal and healthcare decisions on behalf of another person is known as guardianship. In most cases, careful estate planning can avoid the need for guardianship, but it is not always possible. At The Law Offices of Kimberly Butler Rainen, we have obtained dozens of guardianships for our clients and can help you too.

In this blog, our legal team discusses the advantage of retaining a guardianship lawyer and the different types of guardianships in Massachusetts.

When Is a Guardianship Needed?

A guardianship for an incapacitated adult may be necessary to provide for their basic needs. Also, a guardian who remains close with the incapacitated individual may need to make living arrangements and healthcare decisions. Family members and old friends are best situated to make personal decisions because they already know the incapacitated person’s values.

A minor child who has no parents will require a guardianship until they reach the age of majority. If the child inherited property, a conservatorship may be necessary as well.

What Is the Advantage of Hiring a Guardianship Attorney?

Retaining the services of a guardianship lawyer may help a client avoid legal pitfalls that could jeopardize their case to become the guardian of a loved one. Improper filings or a lack of responsiveness from the petitioner could force the court to appoint a less capable person as guardian.

In unfortunate cases, the court may even appoint a public guardian to care for a client’s family member. If you are searching for a guardianship attorney near me, you are on track to taking excellent care of your beloved family member.

How Does One Obtain a Guardianship?

If the parents or other guardian did not legally designate a new guardian in a will or estate proceedings, most attempts to gain guardianship start with an online query for an attorney for guardianship.

Once a client has found a well-established family law firm to take their case, the attorneys and paralegals will gather evidence, submit a petition to the court, and appear at hearings. In most cases, several hearings will need to take place before a judge signs a guardianship order.

What Are the Types of Guardianships?

Clients who wish to petition the court to become legal guardians instead of another individual must understand the various options available. In Massachusetts, the court may make a petitioner guardian over a person, guardian over the estate, or both. Limited guardianships also exist to allow partially incapacitated adults to maintain control over some aspects of their lives.

Guardianship Over the Person

A guardianship over the person makes the guardian accountable for maintaining the physical and mental health of the incapacitated person. Some of the decisions that a guardian will have to make may involve the person’s day-to-day activities and major life events, including:

  • Healthcare
  • Living arrangements
  • Schooling
  • Personal matters

Guardianship Over the Estate (Conservatorship)

A conservatorship is similar to a guardianship, except a conservatorship deals with finances rather than personal and healthcare issues. A guardianship over the estate permits the appointee to manage the finances of an incapacitated person. However, significant transactions may require court approval. Some of the matters covered by a conservatorship, or guardianship over the estate, include:

  • Day-to-day banking
  • Payment of rent, utilities, and other bills
  • Management of shopping expenditures
  • Gifts, donations, and other charitable contributions

Limited Guardianship

Sometimes, a judge may limit the powers of a guardian to allow a somewhat incapacitated person to make decisions regarding matters that they can comprehend. For example, an incapacitated adult may not understand the health issues they suffer from but may recognize their old neighborhood and can express a desire to continue living there.

A judge has considerable discretion when deciding between traditional or limited guardianship.

Guardian and Conservator as the Same Person

Courts often name the same individual as both guardian and conservator. The benefit of appointing the same person to a guardianship and conservatorship of a minor or incapacitated adult involves decision-making speed. Naming one person avoids the delays and mistakes that sometimes arise when a guardian tries to coordinate with a conservator.

One drawback of appointing the same individual to a guardianship and conservatorship is that it gives one person immense power over the minor or incapacitated adult. Although it rarely occurs, a diligent conservator can mitigate the damage of an unscrupulous guardian or vice versa.

How Long Does a Guardianship Last?

A guardianship over a minor will last until they reach the age of majority. In cases where an 18-year-old remains on pace to graduate from high school at the end of the current school year, the court may allow the guardianship to run until graduation.

A guardianship over an incapacitated adult will run until that person dies or regains full or partial capacity. Depending on the extent of the adult’s recovery, the judge may limit the guardianship or terminate it altogether.

The Law Offices of Kimberly Butler Rainen: Planning for Families, Planning for Life

Gain the legal authority to look after your loved one by hiring an experienced guardianship attorney. At The Law Offices of Kimberly Butler Rainen in Andover, Massachusetts, our veteran team of guardianship lawyers, paralegals, and support staff understand the importance of caring for the people you cherish.

If you are searching for a “guardianship lawyer near me,” call us at (978) 409-1928 to start the guardianship process in Massachusetts.

Copyright© 2022. The Law Offices of Kimberly Butler Rainen. All rights reserved.

The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.


The Law Offices of Kimberly Butler Rainen
23 Central St.
Andover, MA 01810
(978) 409-1928

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