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Temporary guardianships in Massachusetts

Many different things can happen during the course of guardianship proceedings. For example, in some guardianship cases, a court will decide to appoint a temporary guardian for an individual to serve while the guardianship petition regarding the individual is being considered by the court.

When can a Massachusetts court appoint a temporary guardian for a person that there is a pending guardianship petition for? Under state law, it can do so when all of the following circumstances are met: 

  • There is an emergency situation present.
  • This emergency situation is likely to lead to the welfare, health or safety of the individual a guardianship is being requested for being harmed in a substantial and immediate manner. 
  • An appropriate motion has been submitted.
  • There is no guardian currently in place for the person. 
  • There is no other individual that appears to have the authority to take action in regards to the situation.

How long does a temporary guardianship last? While the length of such a guardianship can vary, there are some general limits placed on Massachusetts courts regarding how long a temporary guardianship they put in place can go. Generally, the maximum length of a temporary guardianship here in Massachusetts is 90 days. There are some exceptions to this limit. A court can extend a temporary guardianship out for additional 90-day periods beyond the first 90-day period if it finds that there is good cause to do so. Also, a court can order a temporary guardianship to last for a set time longer than 90 days if it finds that extraordinary circumstances are present.

As this shows, temporary guardianships are subject to a rather complex set of rules. Thus, temporary guardianship issues in guardianship proceedings have the potential to be quite complicated. Attorneys can provide families with assistance when complex matters, such as temporary guardianship issues, come up during the course of efforts to request a guardianship for an incapacitated loved one.   

Source: mass.gov, "GENERAL INFORMATION REGARDING GUARDIANSHIPS AND CONSERVATORSHIPS," Accessed July 30, 2015

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