Alternatives to Guardianship
There is no law that states a person with a developmental disability has to get a guardian at age 18; in fact, the law states that guardianship is an option if other alternatives are not available.
Alternatives—Supporting an Individual with a Disability
Alternatives to Guardianship can provide formal and informal methods for supporting individuals with developmental disabilities to make choices and decisions and seek a life that meets his or her needs. This support may include:
Representative Payee: If an individual’s only source of income is SSI, social security, or other federal supplement, a representative payee may be a helpful alternative to guardianship. A representative payee is a person who is given the authority to receive and manage federal benefits for someone who cannot manage the benefits on their own. To do this, an application needs to be submitted to the Social Security Administration or other federal benefit agency, such as the Veterans Administration.
Power of Attorney: A power of attorney is a legal document that gives the decision-making power from one person (principal) to another person (agent). Unlike a guardianship, the court is not involved. A power of attorney can only be used if the principal understands what they are signing. Powers of attorney can be used to officially allow someone else to act in place of the person with a disability. For example, the agent could sign an apartment lease or set up a bank account on behalf of the person with a disability.
A power of attorney can only be signed if the principal understands what they are signing. It is easy to find power of attorney forms on the internet, but only a Michigan attorney can make sure that your power of attorney meets your specific needs, including complying with current Michigan law.
Designation of Patient Advocate: A designation of patient advocate is a special type of power of attorney. It is a tool that gives someone else the power to make medical decisions if an individual cannot make those decisions for themselves.
Like a regular power of attorney, a designation of patient advocate can only be signed if the individual understands what they are signing. Again, consult with a Michigan attorney if you are interested in a designation of patient advocate.
For information about alternatives to guardianship in Kalamazoo County, click here.