Self-determination and Guardianship

Adult guardianship is when the court takes away a person’s legal right to make their own choices and gives those decisions to someone else to make. But the problem is that a person might only need help with some decisions and not others. For instance, they might be able to make decisions about everything except money. Another problem is that guardianship does not help with daily life, or guarantee that the person will be safe. It is not case management or financial support.

What is Guardianship?

Adult guardianship is when a court decides that a person does not have the ability to manage their personal life, finances, or both. A person or agency is then “appointed” to make choices for that person. Some guardianships are limited. This means that the person can make choices about some areas of life but the guardian makes decisions about others.

DRNC supports Self-Determination

Adult guardianship is only suitable for people who cannot make their own choices, or tell others what they want. It is for people who can exercise their rights better with a guardian than without. Guardianship should not be used to provide case management for a person. It also should not be used to provide financial support, or help with certain tasks of daily life.

DRNC advocates for persons with disabilities to have the right and chance to live their life as they want. There are many alternatives to guardianship. These alternatives can give people help with making decisions without taking away their freedom and independence.

Alternatives to guardianship

  • Powers of attorney
  • Joint bank accounts
  • Representative payees
  • Trusts
  • Supported decision-making
  • Other kinds of help to make decisions for themselves.


DRNC helps people with disabilities end their guardianships. We also help people with disabilities and their loved ones consider options other than guardianship. And we work to help people with disabilities stay in control of their own lives but still have the help they need to be safe.

Success Stories

Ashley’s Story – read about how Ashley finally gained the freedom to make her own choices.