Who We Are

The Massachusetts Guardianship Policy Institute is a non-profit collaboration based in Massachusetts thatis committed to research, education and advocacy on issues of guardianship and its alternatives in Massachusetts. Our mission is to advance ideas and policies that improve the lives of all persons who, due to functional impairment, are unable to care for themselves or manage their property without help.

The Institute’s current focus is upon gaps in publicly-available services for those who have no private means of accessing decisional support. Often referred to as “unbefriended,” such persons meet the legal criteria for appointment of a guardian or conservator, but have no suitable family or friends, and lackthe financial means to hire a professional fiduciary, to provide such help. Presently Massachusetts has no state agency that is charged specifically with the protection of such individuals, except in circumstances of the most extreme abuse.

The Institute also has developed a growing interest in alternatives to guardianship. We are exploring ways to implement “supported decision-making,” or “SDM,” which preserves the individual’s autonomous legal status, yet offers necessary support, while encouraging the person to grow in self-determination and independence. Other advocacy includes encouraging education and material support for individuals to execute Health Care Proxies, Durable Powers of Attorney and Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (“MOLST”) instruments, in order to avoid any need for guardianship if the person needs a surrogate.

To learn more about who we are, please go to our About page.
The Institute conducts research into the extent of need for guardianship and/or alternative decision-making support services in Massachusetts. Anecdotal evidence of such needs abounds. Formal research, however, is scarce not only in Massachusetts, but tionwide.

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The Institute also sponsors education to bring the results of its research into wider circulation and to stimulate public debate on policy solutions to the unmet need for guardianship and its alternatives.

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The Institute also provides advocacy by reaching out to community leaders, policy-makers, scholars and other advocates statewide to encourage better policy to address unmet protective needs in Massachusetts.

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