What are the alternatives to guardianship?
Because guardianship is restrictive, it should always be used as a last resort. Some decision-making tools and voluntary arrangements that may be used as alternatives to guardianship include:
- Money management services. Banking services, such as direct deposit and direct payment, may help persons who have trouble keeping track of their money and paying their bills. These services require the consent of the person in need of help.
- Representative or protective payeeship. Payeeship is an arrangement with Social Security or the Veteran’s Administration where a third party (the payee) is appointed to manage the income a person receives from Social Security or the Veteran’s Administration. A payeeship is only less restrictive than guardianship if a payee respects the limits of his or her authority.
- Advance health care directives. Advance directives
are written documents that a competent person can
create which tell other people how the person wants
to be cared for in the event he or she becomes
incapable of making decisions. A number of
different kinds of advance directives are available in
Utah, including a living will, a special power of
attorney (for health care), a medical treatment plan,
and a declaration for mental health treatment. The
Utah Advance Healthcare Directive combines a
Health Care Power of Attorney and a Living Will
into one document. The Utah Advance Healthcare
Directive can be found on
www.hsdaas.utah.gov or www.utcourts.gov.
- Trusts. A trust is a legal arrangement in which a person or institution (“trustee”) holds title to property for the benefit of another person or persons (the “beneficiaries”). Trusts can be very useful for planning for incapacity. There are many types of trusts.
- Joint Ownership. Two or more people may own property jointly if they agree to do so. Many people have joint bank accounts or jointly own an automobile, a home, stocks and bonds. Joint ownership can be a convenient way to manage property and/or income of a person who is incapacitated or is having problems managing his/her property. However, joint ownership has the potential for abuse.