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Norwood Estate Planning Lawyer > Blog > Estate Planning Attorney > How To Obtain Guardianship Of An Elderly Parent In Massachusetts

How To Obtain Guardianship Of An Elderly Parent In Massachusetts


If you have an elderly parent who is unable to make decisions for himself because of a cognitive or physical disability, you may have considered seeking guardianship. The following article will provide information regarding how to obtain guardianship of an elderly parent in the state of Massachusetts.

What is guardianship?

Guardianship is a legal process that is used to establish a lawfully-recognized relationship in which one person makes decisions for another person who can no longer make rational decisions regarding himself due to a mental and/or physical incapacity.  A conservator is appointed when a disabled person can no longer manager his affairs.

What types of guardianship are there?

Ultimately, the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court will decide which type of guardianship is recommended based on the evidence provided. There are two types of guardianships, which are:

  1. Plenary guardianship: A plenary guardianship is established in cases where an elderly parent cannot make any decisions for himself.
  2. Limited guardianship: When a limited guardianship is established, the guardianship only applies to specific areas where the elderly parent needs help. For example, a court may establish this kind of guardianship to allow a person to make decisions regarding the elderly parent’s health and medical care only.

Who can become a guardian?

In Massachusetts, guardians are appointed by the Probate and Family Court. Most individuals who are at least 18 years of age can become guardians. You do not have to be related to the person you are seeking guardianship of and just because you are seeking guardianship of your parent does not automatically mean that it will be granted. Importantly, the court will not appoint you as a guardian if any of the following situations apply:

  1. You are currently under investigation
  2. You have pending charges for committing an assault and battery that seriously injured the incapacitated person
  3. You are currently being investigated for neglecting the incapacitated person

Who is considered an incapacitated person in the state of Massachusetts?

In Massachusetts, an incapacitated person is a person who does not have the ability to make his own decisions. Specifically, an incapacitated person is defined as someone who (for reasons other than advanced age or minority) has a clinically diagnosed condition that results in an inability to receive and evaluate information or to make or communicate decisions to such an extent that the individual lacks the ability to meet essential requirements for physical health, safety, or self-care.

Additionally, guardianship can be established when an elderly parent has a degenerative health condition and cannot consent to treatment or being placed in a nursing facility.

What duties does a guardian have?

In Massachusetts, guardians must adhere to the following duties:

  • Act in the best interest of the incapacitated person
  • Notify the court if there is a change in address
  • Notify the court if the incapacitated person dies by filing a copy of the death certificate or suggestion of death

Do You Need Help With the Guardianship Process? Speak to a Norwood Elder Law Attorney

If you need assistance with the guardianship or conservatorship process, contact Fisher Law LLC today. Our Norwood estate planning lawyers are eager to assist you throughout each step of your case.



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