Commission on Disability Rights

American Bar Association

An individual’s right to make decisions about his or her life is a fundamental value in American law. Guardianship is a legal means by which a court appoints a third party (guardian) to make some or all decisions on behalf of an adult whom the court finds is not able to make decisions or him or herself. While guardianship can be an important protective device, it results in loss of an individual’s right to make life choices. Accordingly, because of the significant liberty and property interests at stake, less restrictive alternatives must be considered before a guardianship is imposed. Most state statutes have recognized this important concept.

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