Self-Advocacy Training - Overview of Guardianships

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Protecting Your Rights
What is this training about?

This training will help you learn:

   What a guardian does.
   How a guardian is chosen.
   How to end a guardianship.
   How to protect your rights.
What is a guardian?

   Guardian: A person that has the legal
    right to make some choices for another
   Conservator: The person that has the
    legal right to make choices about money
    for another person.
         ►►Because the same person is
    often the guardian and the conservator,
    this training uses the word guardian to
    mean both.◄◄
Why have a guardian?

A guardian may help:

   Make important decisions
   Pay bills
   Protect a person’s rights
Why not have a guardian?

A guardian may not help because a
guardian may:
 Take away independence

 Hurt the person

 Make bad decisions

 Make the person feel bad or angry
How can I not have a
   A person may not need a guardian if
    the person shows that he or she can
    get help in other ways.

       ►►What are some other ways a
    person can get help?◄◄
What are other ways to get
Other ways to get help making choices
about money:
 Have a representative payee to help
  spend Social Security money.
 Have another person, a co-signer, to help
  spend money in a joint bank account.
 Use a trust and a trustee.
 Use a team or a support person to set up
  a plan to help pay bills.
Other ways to get help (cont.)

Other ways to get help making
choices about health and safety:
 Have someone help you with applying for
  Medicaid or Social Security.
 Choose someone to make medical
  choices for you.
 Use a team or a support person to help
  you make choices.
How is a guardian chosen?
Idaho has a law that gives the rules on how a
guardian is chosen. The law, the DD Act says
that a person with a disability:
  ➜ does not have to have a guardian.
  ➜ should be as independent as possible.
  ➜ should take part in decisions.
  ➜ should learn new skills.
  ➜ must have his or her rights protected.
How (cont.)

   The DD Act says that 5 things must happen
    before a guardian can be appointed.

       Step 1:   Paperwork is given to the court
       Step 2:   A lawyer is chosen for the person
       Step 3:   Evaluations are done.
       Step 4:   A hearing is held.
       Step 5:   The judge signs an order.
Step 1: Filing paperwork

   Any person can ask a judge to decide
    if a person needs a guardian.
   This person brings papers (called a
    petition) to the courthouse.
   The person must give copies of the
    papers to the person with a disability.
Step 2: Choosing a lawyer

   A lawyer will be chosen for the person.
   The person can also choose his or her
    own lawyer.
   The lawyer must learn what the
    person wants and tell this to the court.
Step 3: Getting Information
The judge will ask an “evaluation committee,”
to visit the person.
The evaluation committee includes:

      A social worker
      A medical doctor
      A psychologist or person trained
       in psychology.
Step 3 (cont.)

The Evaluation Committee writes a report
to the judge. The report must say:

➜ If the person needs a guardian.
➜ What the person does not need help with.
➜ What the person does need help with.
➜ If the guardian will do a good job.
Step 4: Having a Hearing

   The judge will have a meeting at the
    courthouse, called a hearing.
   At the hearing, the judge will listen to
    people talk about if the person needs a
   What the judge listens to and reads at the
    hearing is called evidence.
        ►►The person can also ask other
    people to give evidence at the hearing.◄◄
Step 5: Making a Decision

The judge will:
 Decide if the person needs a guardian.
 Decide what the guardian can do.
 Sign papers that say what the judge
    ►►The person must get a copy of the
    papers, called the “Letters of
What can a guardian do?

The judge will decide what choices the
guardian can make for the person.
 A full guardian has the right to make
  many choices for a person.
 A partial guardian can only make the
  choices that the papers, or the Letters
  of Guardianship, say.
What can a full guardian do?

   A full guardian can make decisions
       housing
       treatment
       work or school
       service providers
       money
What can a partial guardian
   A partial guardian can only make the
    choices that the judge allows.

       ►►It is important to know what
    choices a partial guardian can and
    cannot make.◄◄
Can the guardianship be

Does a guardianship have to last forever?
A person can ask the judge to:
 End the guardianship

 Limit the decisions the guardian makes

 Choose a new guardian
Changing (cont.)
The person or any friend can file
papers with the court to ask the judge
to change the guardianship.

     ►►The lawyer chosen for the person
 earlier can help change the guardianship
Changing (cont.)

   Step 1: File paperwork with the court.
   Step 2: Have a new evaluation or give the court
            new information.
   Step 3: Have a new hearing.
   Step 4: Get a new order from the judge.

       ►►To end the guardianship, you should
    have new tests that say that you can make safe
    choices by yourself.◄◄
Does a person have rights
under a guardianship?

 All people should be
  treated with
  dignity whether or
  not they have a
Rights (cont.)

   Dignity means having:

                 ★ Freedom
                 ★ Choice
                 ★ Respect
                 ★ Rights

Self-determination is important for all.
Rights (cont.)

At the hearing, the person has a right
 Have a lawyer.
 Have the judge know what the person
 Ask people questions.
 Bring people to talk about what the
  person can do.
Rights (cont.)

Even with a guardian, people have
rights, such as the right to:
 Vote

 Have friends

 Be safe from harm

 Get information about themselves

 Say what they think
Rights (cont.)

   Get married or divorced
   Have children
   Keep information private
   Make as many choices as possible
   Have their things and money kept safe

       ►►Being a self-advocate means telling
    someone if you are denied your rights.◄◄




   This training was funded in part by the
    Administration on Developmental
   The information does not necessarily
    reflect the views of that agency
   This training is not meant to be legal
   Revised 9/09