At Drug and Alcohol Attorneys, we help clients facing various guardianship and conservatorship issues in Boston, MA. While the law has laid out clear guidelines on how to navigate guardianship & conservatorship, sometimes the process can get complicated, mainly because no two cases are similar.
If you want to seek guardianship or conservatorship over a loved one with substance use and mental health disorder, are a respondent opposing a guardianship or conservatorship appointment, or are facing any other related issue, we can help. Contact us for a confidential consultation today.
At Drug and Alcohol Attorneys, we understand the struggles individuals with substance abuse and mental disorders go through. Having worked with them and their families for many years, we know the significance of support in their treatment and recovery journeys. Hence our commitment is to protect their rights and avail the resources they require to rebuild their lives.
Why Drug and Alcohol Attorneys?
We leverage our extensive experience spanning over two decades to provide our clients with the best legal representation possible. Our team has helped many clients navigate guardianship and conservatorship petitions; hence, we are well-versed in the potential challenges likely to arise and the best way to address them. From filing guardianship and conservatorship petitions to litigating appointment challenges, we have the necessary experience to handle the process.
If you are facing a complicated guardianship or conservatorship situation, do not hesitate to consult us for guidance.
We cater to the holistic well-being of individuals with substance abuse and mental disorders to make their lives and their families’ lives easier. Besides legal support, we provide other services, including intervention, comprehensive assessment, treatment recommendations, case management, sober transportation, and professional treatment placement.
Substance abuse and mental disorder issues are sensitive and must be handled with confidentiality. At Drug and Alcohol Attorneys, we understand the importance of professionalism when handling these matters, as a lack of discretion can have long-term implications on an individual’s recovery and reputation. Whether you call or send us a message via our contact page, our system is 100% secure and confidential.
We are a client-centered legal practice dedicated to shouldering our clients’ burdens and helping them navigate the complex legal process confidently. At Drug & Alcohol Attorneys, we bring all our resources together to help substance abuse and mental disorder patients and their families navigate complicated legal situations and regain control of their lives. With us, you have a team committed to protecting your best interests from the moment we take up your case.
Guardianship and conservatorship refer to a situation where the court appoints an individual to make decisions on behalf of a ward. In this case, a ward is a person incapable of making decisions or protecting themselves due to a diagnosed condition like substance abuse and mental disorder. However, the two terms are not similar. Guardians primarily have the right to protect a person only, while conservators protect a person’s property and financial affairs.
A plenary (full) guardianship grants the guardian full responsibility, authority, and decision-making on behalf of the incapacitated person, while a plenary (full) conservatorship awards the conservator control over all the protected person’s assets.
Limited guardianship and conservatorship may exist where the individual has only a few areas of reduced functionality. In a limited guardianship, the medical certificate must indicate functional capacities and incapacities. Similarly, a limited conservatorship may grant the person protected the ability to make some estate decisions and transactions.
Temporary guardianship and conservatorship may also be granted while the petition is underway. In this case, the court appoints a temporary guardian or conservator for up to 90 days, if there is an urgent need to protect the person while the petition progresses.
Even if you are the parent of a person with substance abuse and mental disorder, you cannot assume guardianship or conservatorship responsibility over them automatically. Only the court can appoint a guardian or conservator upon petition. But it has the discretion to decline to appoint the petitioner if they are under investigation or are facing assault or battery charges against an incapacitated person.
To petition for guardianship, you need to file the following forms:
Petition for appointment of a guardian (MPC 120)
Medical certificate (MPC 400)
Bond (MPC 801)
Clinical team report (MPC 402) for those with intellectual disability
Rogers authority for those under antipsychotic medications
You can file the petition in the county where the person lives in person, by email, or online.
Similarly, to petition for appointment as a conservator, you need to submit (MPC 130) ‘petition for appointment of conservator’ form, medical certificate (MPC 400), clinical team report (MPC 402), bond (MPC 801), plus other forms as the situation calls for it.
Once the court grants the guardianship or conservatorship petition, the person for whom the order is sought (respondent) loses many rights, such as the right to consent to medical treatment, determine residence, make end-of-life decisions, marry, file lawsuits, vote, and manage, sell, or buy property.
To protect the respondent from an undue petition, the law has laid out the process that must be followed as follows:
Filing petition – An interested party (family member, friend, etc.) files a petition to the court. The court must then notify the respondent.
Appointing an attorney – The respondent may appoint an attorney to represent them. If they do not have an attorney, the court may appoint one for them.
Hearing – The court schedules a hearing date for which the respondent should be present to confront or cross-examine the witnesses.
Presenting evidence – The petitioner must present evidence (testimony or medical assessment) to prove why the respondent needs a guardian or conservator. Similarly, the respondent may present evidence to demonstrate why they do not require to be under guardianship or conservatorship.
Granting the petition – If the court finds reasonable grounds for placing the respondent under guardianship or conservatorship, it may grant or modify the petition as necessary. Otherwise, it also reserves the right to dismiss the petition.
Appealing the court decision – Anyone (petitioner or respondent) not satisfied with the court decision has a right to appeal the determination.
Once the court grants the petition, it outlines the responsibilities depending on the type of guardianship or conservatorship (full, limited, or temporary).
Guardian responsibilities include:
Acting in the interests of the incapacitated individual while considering their desires and personal values
Filing an initial care plan report (MPC 821) within 60 days of the appointment
Informing the court about a change of address of the incapacitated person or yours
Filing a guardianship termination petition (MPC 203) to the court if the person recovers from the incapacity
Petitioning for change of authority if the incapacitated person requires additional treatment to the original authorization
Reporting to the court if the person dies by filing a copy of the death certificate
Filing a resignation petition to the court if you no longer wish to be a guardian
Conservator responsibilities include:
Serving as a fiduciary over the protected person’s assets and observing a trustee’s standards of care
Encouraging the protected person to regain their ability to manage their financial affairs by exercising their responsibility and authority and making decisions on their own behalf
Filing an inventory report of the protected person’s assets within 90 days of the appointment
Notifying the court if your address or that of the protected person changes
Informing the court if the protected person dies by filing a copy of their death certificate
Filing an annual account of the current estate status and financial transactions during the accounting period.
Presenting a final account upon resignation, death of the protected person, or termination of the conservatorship
Petitioning for change of authority when necessary
Filing a petition for resignation (MPC 202) if you no longer wish to be the conservator or a petition for termination (MPC 203) if the protected person no longer requires a conservator.
In addition, you are responsible for filing a financial plan (MPC 861) within 60 days of the court order or on the ordered date if specified.
Guardianship or conservatorship can end under the following four circumstances:
Death of the incapacitated or protected person
Death of the guardian or conservator
Removal or resignation of the guardian or conservator
Recovery of the incapacitated or protected person
While anyone can petition for guardianship or conservatorship, the process can get complicated without legal guidance and support. If you are seeking guardianship or conservatorship, it is recommended to work with a lawyer to help file the petition and present evidence to demonstrate the person requires a guardian or conservator. Similarly, if you or a loved one with a substance abuse and mental disorder is being unduly placed under guardianship or conservatorship, you need an experienced lawyer to help you contest the petition.
At Drug & Alcohol Attorneys, we have drug and alcohol lawyers experienced in litigating guardianship petitions in Boston, MA. Contact us today for a confidential consultation.