Alternatives to Guardianship

Suddenly finding yourself incapable of making decisions for medical, personal, or financial decisions is an unsettling prospect. If you become disabled because of illness or an accident, will your family members have to start guardianship proceedings? What alternatives to guardianship are available to you in Michigan?

Here is the good news: several legal options may help you avoid guardianship or conservatorship, but you must pre-plan before you lose capacity. For reliable legal advice about alternatives to guardianship in Ann Arbor, MI, call Bassett Murray Law Group at (734) 930-9200.

Who Needs a Legal Guardian?

Adults in Michigan may need a legal guardian or conservator if they cannot make informed decisions about their own medical care, finances, or other important matters and there is no other authority for someone to make decisions for them. The court may appoint someone because of:

  • Physical disability
  • Mental health issues
  • Cognitive decline or mental deficiency
  • Chronic drug or alcohol use
  • Other conditions that impair decision-making abilities

If a Michigan probate court rules that an incapacitated adult (known as a ward) needs a guardian, the guardianship can be full or limited to only certain types of decisions. A full guardianship gives the guardian nearly absolute control over the ward’s everyday life. This legal arrangement can be far too restrictive for many adults who may only need some help with managing their finances or errands.

Alternatives to Guardianship in Michigan

You may be able to avoid guardianship and preserve your independence with these alternatives:

  • Durable power of attorney (POA). A durable POA gives a chosen representative the right to act on your behalf within the scope you define in the POA document.
  • Durable Healthcare Power of Attorney (DHPOA). A medical/health care power of attorney document allows a chosen agent (Patient Advocate) to make decisions about your medical treatment.
  • Revocable trusts. When you set up a revocable living trust, you can name a successor trustee who will take over trust asset management if you become incapacitated.
  • Representative payee. This Social Security Administration term refers to the person you authorize to manage your SS benefits.

With these more limited and specific alternatives, you can get the support you need but still retain control over your life.

Update Your Estate Plan Today and Secure Your Future

Powers of attorney, health care proxy documents, revocable trusts, and other possible alternatives to guardianship come with a catch-22: once you need them, it’s often too late to authorize them. You must have mental capacity to sign a legal document. Without an estate plan that addresses incapacity, guardianship or conservatorship may be your family’s only option in a crisis.

To avoid guardianship, work with an experienced estate planning and elder law attorney to make sure your estate plan addresses every future scenario, is signed and witnessed correctly, and gives the proper authority to trusted persons.

Bassett Murray Law Group, PLLC: Helping You Stay in Control of Your Life

Comprehensive estate planning is the key to a secure future. At Bassett Murray Law Group, we help you use legal tools like durable powers of attorney, living wills, and revocable living trusts to preserve your autonomy and ensure that your representatives respect your wishes.

Take the first step towards protecting yourself against a future crisis. Call (734) 930-9200 or fill out our online form to discuss alternatives to guardianship and update your estate plan.


Get to know us better by scheduling an initial consultation where we can discuss your needs.

Bassett Murray Law Group, PLLC
2045 Hogback Road
​Ann Arbor, MI ​48105
Phone: 734-930-9200
Fax: 734-930-9942

Petoskey Office
By Appointment only
3319 Lakeside Dr S
Petoskey, MI 49770
Phone: 231-427-2292

Bassett Murray Law Group, PLLC
2045 Hogback Road
​Ann Arbor, MI ​48105
Phone: 734-930-9200
Fax: 734-930-9942