Guardianship impacts many aspects of an individual’s life. Guardianship may remove or restrict an individual’s ability to make important decisions for themselves such as where to live, who to see, and what to do. Guardianship is only appropriate when alternatives have failed to provide necessary protections for an incapacitated individual and legal authority is needed to make decisions regarding health care, medical treatment, medical decisions, or appropriate placement. There are options other than guardianship that allow a designated person to make decisions for another. These are referred to as least restrictive alternatives. People who can protect themselves should retain their rights. If a less restrictive alternative can sufficiently protect an individual from harm, it should be used instead of a guardianship.
Alternatives to Guardianship
Adult Health Care Consent Act
The Adult Health Care Consent Act is a South Carolina law that may provide legal authority for certain people (e.g., spouses, children or parents) to make health care decisions for an adult who cannot make or communicate such decisions. For more information, see S.C. Code Ann. § 44-66-10 et seq. http://www.scstatehouse.gov/code/t44c066.php
Adult Students With Disabilities Educational Rights Consent Act
The Adult Students with Disabilities Educational Rights Consent Act provides alternatives to guardianship for students receiving special education services from age 18 to 21. For more information on the alternatives for educational decisions, see S.C. Code Ann. §§ 59-33-310 to 59-33-370.
More information is available through the Department of Education’s website:
Case or care managers are people who have been trained to assist with personal care.
Examples of assistance may include:
arranging health appointments
helping with paperwork and
assisting with transportation.
Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA)
A durable power of attorney (DPOA) is a legal document that may give another person the authority to make decisions on your behalf. This document may affect property, assets, money, debts, health care, and pets. For more information, see S.C. Code Ann. § 62-5-501 http://www.scstatehouse.gov/code/t62c005.php
Note: When you die, the DPOA is no longer valid.
Health Care Advance Directive
A health care advance directive may combine the health care power of attorney and living will documents into one document.
Note: This document is not the same as your Last Will and Testament. This document is not the same as your Health Care Power of Attorney (HCPOA).
Note: When you die, the Living Will is no longer valid.
Money management services help people with their financial affairs, including check depositing and writing, checkbook balancing, bill paying, insurance claim preparation, tax preparation and counseling, and public benefit applications and counseling.
A Protective Order may protect your assets from fraud or theft and other protections as ordered by the Probate Court.
A representative payee is appointed by a government agency to receive, manage and spend government benefits for a beneficiary. The representative payee’s authority is limited to only the government funds. Usually, this applies to Social Security. For more information, see http://www.socialsecurity.gov/payee/
Supported Decision Making
Utilizing supports and assistance to help a person with a disability to make decisions can be used as an alternative to guardianship. Supported Decision Making can be formalized through an agreement or it can be informal, like seeking the advice of a doctor or talking over a big decision with family.
More information on Supported Decision Making is available at
A trust is a legal document that gives authority to a person called a Trustee to manage some or all of your assets for you or another person’s benefit.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: Fiduciary Program
A fiduciary is appointed when a Veteran or other beneficiary is no longer able to manage their finances. The fiduciary must undergo an investigation of their suitability to serve, which includes a criminal background check, review of credit report, personal interview, and recommendations of character references. The fiduciary is responsible to the beneficiary and oversees financial management of VA benefit payments. See http://benefits.va.gov/fiduciary/