Often guardianship is not necessary to meet the needs of an individual who is having difficulty handling his or her personal and financial affairs. There are alternatives that provide supports for the person or for substitute decision making authority in specific areas, and these should be used instead of guardianship whenever possible:
A private guardian is a person appointed by the Probate Court to assume the responsibility for making decisions on behalf of another person (the court calls this person a "ward") whom the court has found is unable to make those decisions independently.
A Public Guardian may be appointed by the Probate Court for an adult age 60 years and older who has a mental disability if it finds that there is no suitable and willing family member or friend to serve as guardian and the person needs a guardian. Every effort to locate a suitable private guardian must be made before a Public Guardian may be appointed.