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 we work with clients on their estate plan. We 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 our Fall River law office. for assistance. We 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, we work with families who want to protect and care for loved ones who are no longer able to care for themselves. We 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


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 us, Fall River guardianship attorneys at the law office of Driscoll Sanford Family Law, or contact us online. We offer payment plans and flat-fee pricing for some legal matters.

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