There may be some other routes to guardianship, a process where the court appoints someone to make financial and personal decisions for a Maryland resident with illness or a disability. The guardian may make choices in housing, food, education, medical care, or everyday needs in addition to handling financial affairs, such as paying the bills, applying for benefits, paying taxes, and more.
For those with an illness or disability, there may be ways for meeting their needs without a guardian. Some of these ways may modify guardianship or prevent it.
Less restrictive options
Other options may avoid guardianship or have use in limiting or modifying it. These include the following:
• Surrogate decision-making
• Advance directives
• Assistance with personal needs
• Representative payees
• Banking services
• ABLE accounts, trusts, and specific transactions
• Supported decision-making
An estate plan may be of help in avoiding guardianship. You may direct how you want these financial and personal affairs to be handled. This can be in the event that you die, become incapacitated or are unable to make decisions.
Importance of alternatives
People do best when they are independent. There are programs for personal needs that may help with housing, food, medical needs and more. Technology is always expanding and may be of help with personal and financial issues.
Guardianship may take away the fundamental rights of a person. In some cases, they may no longer make decisions about what they eat or where they live. How they spend their own money and time with friends and family may be dictated by their guardians. When the court has to appoint a guardian, it may be a lengthy process. They may also not know about the person’s preferences regarding food, clothing, values, and beliefs.
Although guardianship may protect the most vulnerable, there are alternatives for exploration. Other choices, for those with illness or disability, might be a better fit depending on your loved one’s situation.