Guardianship or Supported Decision-Making

Most of us at least have a basic understanding of what it means to be under a guardianship. Let’s look closer at what supported decision-making is.

What Is Guardianship

Guardianship involves the legal system, and a court declaring that an individual is no longer able to make appropriate decisions regarding his or her own self-care, medical and financial matters. Thus, a guardian is appointed to protect the vulnerable individual and make necessary decisions.

Recently in Indiana and across the nation, there have been a multitude of discussions about the concept of support decision-making as an alternative to guardianship. In fact, there is a variety of alternatives to guardianship available.

General Decision-Making

Powers of attorney allow an individual to designate someone to assist in decision-making. This happens for financial transactions and for healthcare matters. And they are often effective in avoiding a guardianship. In some instances, the power of attorney may be utilized more than others.

Again, however, having selected the person to help generally allows for greater comfort in receiving the assistance or allowing the transition of the decision-making.

Protective Orders as Guardianship

Protective orders entered by a court are another alternative. In fact, protective orders are court orders to protect business or financial affairs. They are not available for matters of self-care or health care.

Supported Decision Making involves an individual making his or her own decisions. But being provided assistance and information to help understand the situation and choices so they can make the best decision. In some instances, it is vocabulary help or cutting through the confusing. Or perhaps fancy terminology and translating it into more plain language. Sometimes it includes powers of attorneys and also protective orders.

Guardianship Exclusions

Supported Decision Making is not going to work in all situations. For example, if a loved one has certain levels of thought and memory impairment due to some type of dementia, it is not likely workable long-term. Likewise, certain types of mental illnesses will not lend themselves to supported decision-making. No one solution fits all situations.

However, there is nothing to fear in guardianship. A guardian has a legal duty to make the individual as independent as possible. That can be through a small checking account, allowing the individual to reatin certain decisions, or a myriad of other items.


Guardianship is not the end of an individual. And Supported Decision Making is not the substitute for all guardianships. If you have a friend, loved one, relative or someone you assist, the most important thing you can do is get legal advice to explore the options and find the solution best suited for your individual situation.

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