The Different Degrees of Supported Decision-Making Frameworks

A supported decision-making agreement may include any of the following elements:

  • A supported decision-making agreement may offer disabled adults access to a network of friends, family members, and state-appointed officials who help the adult navigate their personal and legal affairs without any further assistance.
  • A supported decision-making agreement could be combined with a durable power of attorney and other permissions.
  • A supported decision-making agreement may include a limited conservatorship, ensuring that an incapacitated adult enjoys greater autonomy while establishing their independence.

The Advantages of Supported Decision-Making

A disabled adult’s supporters can help them navigate day-to-day life by:

  • Talking through important life decisions
  • Role-playing job interviews or classroom situations
  • Attending meetings and appointments with the disabled adult to provide additional guidance and comfort
  • Partnering with the adult to manage their financial affairs responsibly and effectively

Supported decision-making can offer many adults an opportunity to begin exercising their autonomy and establishing their independence. However, supported decision-making agreements are not always binding and may not offer caretakers adequate means to protect their wards from fiscal or physical difficulty.

Talking to an Attorney About Supported Decision-Making

A supported decision-making agreement can help families overcome incredible obstacles; however, a standalone supported decision-making agreement does not necessarily provide adult caretakers with the tools needed to help a ward make and enact critical decisions. You may need to consider establishing:

A special needs trust.

A special needs trust provides additional resources for adults with disabilities. When a grantor establishes a special needs trust, they can disburse conditioned maintenance funds to an adult beneficiary. These funds do not jeopardize or reduce the adult beneficiary’s eligibility for government benefits.

A durable power of attorney.

A durable power of attorney, or a financial power of attorney, delegates critical financial tasks and responsibilities to a designated agent. This agent can help a disabled adult pay their bills, make investments, and administer existing assets.

A limited conservatorship.

A limited conservatorship is a type of conservatorship that allows the individual conservatee to retain as much independence as possible. While conservators still exercise some authority over the conservatee’s assets and financial responsibilities, a limited conservatorship offers more opportunities for collaboration than a full and conventional conservatorship.

Philip J. Kavesh
Nationally recognized attorney helping clients with customized estate planning guidance for over 40 years.