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Who can be given guardianship of an incapacitated adult?

When an adult is or becomes incapacitated, and he or she lacks a plan for who is to handle his or her affairs, the Massachusetts court system will likely place the individual in the care of a guardian. Who can be given guardianship of an incapacitated person? Many might be surprised at the answer to that question.

According to the state of Massachusetts, anyone who expresses interest in the individual's well-being can apply to be his or her guardian. One would think it would have to be a relative or at least someone close to the incapacitated person, but that is simply not the case. The only requirements the courts have are that the person applying for guardianship:

  • Cannot be under investigation for any reason
  • Cannot have criminal charges pending
  • Cannot have a history of neglecting or abusing the incapacitated person

Who is deemed an incapacitated person? Any adult who is unable to make decisions for him- or herself is considered incapacitated. This individual may suffer from a mental illness, low IQ, deteriorating health or other disability that affects his or her mental capacity.

Anyone interested in applying for the guardianship of an incapacitated adult in Massachusetts will have to go through the proper legal channels. This requires obtaining proof of incapacitation, filing the appropriate petition in court and attending all required court hearings -- among other things. An experienced attorney will have the ability to offer guidance, help one navigate the legal system and present one's case for guardianship in court.

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