Because guardianship removes most or all of a person’s liberty and property rights, the U.S. Constitution requires that it must be the “least restrictive alternativeā€ available for a vulnerable person in need of protection. Often, the specific issues that cause parents or others to seek guardianship can be solved by other legal means such as healthcare proxies, trust and Special Needs Trusts (SNTs) and Social Security representative payee status.

If someone with an intellectual or developmental disability has difficulty in making or communicating decisions, SDM provides her or him with the supports necessary, thus alleviating the need for guardianship and providing a much less restrictive alternative that allows the person to retain all of his or her legal rights.