“What Alternatives do I have if I don’t want a Guardianship?”

Supported Decision-Making

•    An Individual chooses a Supporter who they can request to help them gather information, to help understand the information, and to help communicate their decisions. The Individual makes the decisions.

Power of Attorney

•    You could choose someone to represent you or act on your behalf in general or specific matters; this must be in writing and accepted by the person who will represent you or act on your behalf.
•    Your Power of Attorney document would be “durable” if you include special wording. “Durable” means it remains effective even after you acquire a later disability or incapacity unless it contains an expiration date.

Representative Payee

•    If the Social Security Administration (SSA) determines that you are not able to manage benefit payments in your own interest, SSA could choose someone to receive your Social Security benefits and use them for your needs.

Veterans Administration Fiduciary

•    The VA could choose someone to be your “fiduciary” to manage your VA benefits, if you are a minor or if you lack the mental capacity to conduct or manage your own benefits.

Joint Bank Account with a Trusted Person

•    You could establish an account that requires two signatures to use the account to help you avoid scams and impulses to spend.

Joint Title on Property

•    You could establish joint title on any property you own and require two signatures to give up any property rights, like selling, renting, or giving other property rights to someone else.


•    You or someone else could place property or money in the “legal” ownership of a person or company (a trustee), requiring that the trust property be managed and used for your benefit.
•    The trustee would have to agree to your terms but might charge a fee to act as trustee.

Special Needs Trust

•    This is a trust you or another person could create for your benefit under Medicaid rules. The trust could be larger than Medicaid rules otherwise allow without making you ineligible for Medicaid benefits.

Advance Directive for Health Care

•    In writing, you could make decisions on your future health care and these would apply if you became unable to make or communicate health care decisions at the time you need health care. You could also appoint someone (your agent) to see that your decisions are followed and to make other health care decisions for you as you instruct or as you would if you were able.

Advance Directive for Mental Health Care

•    This is like the Advance Directive for Health Care except this applies specifically to mental health care.

Consent to Medical Treatment Act

•    If you become unable to make or communicate your health care decisions and do not have an Advance Directive for Health Care, North Dakota has a law that establishes who could make your health care decisions. The person is required to make the same decisions you would make if you were able. If the person does not know what you would do, the person is required to do what is in your best interests.

Automatic Payment

•    You could set up a process with your bank and one (or more) of your creditors, so the creditor gets paid every month from funds in your bank account. You would have to make have enough money in your account to cover any payment.

ABLE Account

•    An individual who first has a disability before age 26, could establish a special savings account to use for qualified disability-related expenses that otherwise might not be covered by another benefits program. The disability must be severe enough to satisfy criteria used for SSI or Social Security disability benefits. These accounts largely will not affect eligibility for SSI, Medicaid, and many other public benefits programs.