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Guardianships, Conservatorships, and Alternative Forms of Substitute Decision Making 

Guardianships, Conservatorships, and Alternative Forms of Substitute Decision Making
Guardianships, Conservatorships, and Alternative Forms of Substitute Decision Making

Ronald Schouten

and Rebecca W. Brendel

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date: 07 July 2022

To protect individuals who can no longer make the decisions and carry on the activities of adult life, society has provided processes including the appointment of alternative decision makers, traditionally referred to as guardians of the person (for personal decisions such as medical treatment) and conservators of the estate (for financial decisions). When a person has lost capacity, appointing an alternative decision maker can be problematic, as the person may not have previously expressed preferences regarding health care or financial matters, and there may be disagreement among interested parties such as family members. Advance directives, such as health care proxies, help alleviate these problems by providing a method for the person in question to document his or her preferences and appoint someone to act on their behalf in the event of incapacity. This chapter discusses traditional protections for incapacitated persons, advance directives, and capacities to engage in various decision-making activities.

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