A Representative Payeeship or Authorized Representative may also be available for other state and federal benefit or entitlement programs including but not limited to regular Social Security, SSDI, VA benefits, Railroad Retirement Benefits, welfare benefits, and Black Lung benefits.
2) Trust – A Trust might be used instead of a Guardianship of the Estate, to handle funds for the individual.
3) Conservatorship – If an individual is mentally competent but has a physical disability, he can ask the Probate Court to appoint a Conservator for him. He can select the Conservator, discharge the Conservator if he is unhappy with him or if his physical disability decreases; and he can specify to the Court just what authority he wants the Conservator to have.
4) Adult Protective Services – A Court may order a County Board of DD to provide protective services for a short time to an adult with mental retardation or other developmental disability who is being abused or neglected, if that adult lacks the capacity to make decisions to protect himself. (See Revised Code Section 5126.30 et seq.)
If the individual who needs assistance is over age 60, he might also be eligible for other protective services available to the elderly.
5) Protection Orders – An individual may also be able to ask that a Court order someone who is hurting him or threatening to hurt him to stay away from him and not have any contact with him. Why take away an individual’s rights through a guardianship in order to keep him safe, when it might be possible to accomplish the same thing with a Court order of protection.
6) Powers of Attorney – In theory, a power of attorney is of limited usefulness when given by a person with an ongoing mental disability such as mental retardation. A person must be competent himself in order to give valid authority to act to someone else in a legal document known as a Power of Attorney.
In reality, however, many people, including parents of adult children with mental retardation, often claim authority to represent the individual though a Power of Attorney. Such claims would probably not withstand a legal challenge.
An example of a more appropriate use of a power of attorney would be when a competent, healthy person gives someone else the power to make health care decisions for him at a later time if he becomes unable to make decisions for himself as a result of an accident, aging, etc., through a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care.
To sum up, a Power of Attorney is clearly an alternative to guardianship if made by a person when they were competent. It is much less valuable as an alternative if the competency of the maker of the Power of Attorney has always been in doubt, such as when the maker is a person who has always had mental retardation.
7) Circle of Support/Volunteer Advocate/Good Programs & Services – An alternative to guardianship might be to rally those people important to an individual around him to make sure he has a support system that meets all his needs and advocates in his behalf.
8) Microboard – A new concept that originated in Canada and is in use in a few states such as Tennessee, Maryland and Missouri, is for an individual’s circle of support to formalize their involvement by incorporating, with the individual as the Chairman of the Board! Such a legal entity can be of benefit in our complex Medicaid world, including in the hiring and firing of staff, and negotiating with the service delivery system. Microboards are being explored in several Ohio counties at the present time.