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Massachusetts Guardianship and Conservatorship Law

If a child has no parents, or a child's parents are unable to fulfill their duties because of illness, distance or incarceration, someone needs to be able to make important decisions for the child, such as:

  • Enrolling the child in school
  • Signing the child up for daycare, school programs, summer camp
  • Talking with the child's doctors and approving medical care
  • Securing benefits for the child

A guardian is a person with the power to make decisions on behalf of a child (or an incompetent person). There are two ways a guardian can be appointed. When I work with clients on their estate plan. I advise them to name a guardian in their Will or with a guardianship document.

If parents have not planned for a guardian and are now unable to provide care, someone can petition the probate court to ask a judge to name them as guardian. While it's typical for a family member to take on the role of guardian – a grandparent, aunt or uncle, or an older sibling – a guardian can be an unrelated person. He or she could be a family friend.

If you need help obtaining guardianship for a child, contact my Fall River law office. for assistance. I can help you bring your petition to court.

Petitioning for Guardianship of an Incapacitated Person

Seeking guardianship of an incapacitated adult requires another level of preparation. A medical certificate will be required documenting the person's incapacity. A clinical team must do an evaluation within the 180 days prior to your filing. You may need others to provide information to the court so the judge can make a decision.

As a Massachusetts guardianship attorney, I work with families who want to protect and care for loved ones who are no longer able to care for themselves. I can advise you on steps you need to take to seek guardianship.

The so-called "incapacitated person" also has rights and can have those rights protected by legal counsel. He or he may not want a guardian or may want to limit the scope of the guardians' role.

Changes in Massachusetts Guardianship Law

Massachusetts recently enacted a new Guardianship law.Prior to this change, a guardian had control over the assets of his or her ward. This sometimes led to problems, as a guardian might take financial advantage of the ward. The new guardianship law frowns upon the guardian also being named the financial conservator of the estate. A second person must be named conservator, unless there is a reason to do otherwise.

The new law also created two distinct categories of wards: 1) elders and 2) minors/mentally incompetent persons. Elders and children over the age of 14 are assigned their own lawyer in court. Children over 14 also have the right to sign a petition saying where they would like to live.

Contact Fall River Guardianship Attorney Wilfred C. Driscoll, Jr

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If you are concerned about an elder or incompetent family member and would like to begin a Guardianship proceeding, call (508) 672-8718 to speak with me, Fall River guardianship attorney Wilfred C. Driscoll, Jr., or contact me online. I offer payment plans and flat-fee pricing for some legal matters.

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