Document Type


Publication Title

Elder Law Journal

Publication Date



The imposition of a guardianship exacts an extraordinary toll on both the life of the person subjected to the guardianship, curtailing fundamental freedoms and basic civil liberties, and the life of the guardian, redirecting to that guardian the overwhelming burden of taking on a decision‐making role that should ordinarily belong to another human being. This Article will examine the legal framework governing the decision-making role of a guardian and suggest that, while many guardianship statutes propose to compel a guardian to make decisions in line with the known desires of a ward, few guardianship statutes are flexible enough to account for wishes of wards that fall outside societal norms. Thus, while recognizing the delicate balance of individual safety and well being with the innate human interest in self‐determination, this Article posits that it is incumbent upon society to deeply examine the guardianship regime, its goals and the means by which it seeks to achieve them. It offers a discussion of guardianship law and suggests that states must offer greater support and guidance to guardians seeking to honor the desires of their wards while acting in compliance with decision‐making standards.

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