Statutory schemes will usually stress that guardianship should be avoided by families and courts whenever possible, and that alternatives to guardianship are preferred over the deprivation of rights that results from guardianship proceedings.
Alternatives to guardianship may include:
• Representatives or substitute payees.
• Case/care management.
• Health care surrogacy.
• Durable powers of attorney for property.
• Durable powers of attorney for health care.
• Living wills.
• Community advocacy systems.
• Joint checking accounts.
• Community agencies/services.
• Supported decision-making agreements.
Even within the context of a court-appointed guardianship, a responsible guardian will take into account the wishes and desires of the person under guardianship when making decisions about residence, medical treatments, and end-of life decisions. The courts should remove only those rights that the proposed person under guardianship is incapable of handling. The National Guardianship Association has adopted Standards of Practice for Guardians, and a number of states have enacted provisions which impose ethical standards for decision-making on professional and/or family guardians.
Read the National Council on Disability's report, Beyond Guardianship: Toward Alternatives That Promote Greater Self-Determination for People with Disabilities
(published March 22, 2018).