File for guardianship of an incapacitated person

Learn how to file for legal guardianship of an incapacitated person and find out which forms you'll need to file.

Probate and Family Court

The Details

What you need

The Probate and Family Court may appoint a guardian to make some or all decisions for an incapacitated person. The person asking to be named guardian is called the petitioner, and the person believed to be incapacitated is called the respondent. To request to become a guardian for an incapacitated person, you'll first need to determine the type of guardianship you wish to file for: plenary or limited. More information about these types of guardianship can be found on the responsibilities of a guardian of an incapacitated person page.

Next, you'll need to file:

  • Petition for Guardianship (MPC 120) (For plenary guardianship, you must check the box indicating why limited powers are not appropriate. For limited guardianship, you must include the Exhibit which lists proposed Limitations to Powers).
  • Medical Certificate (MPC 400), which needs to be completed and signed by a registered physician, licensed psychologist, or certified psychiatric nurse clinical specialist. The examination of the respondent must have been within 30 days from when the petition is filed. 
  • Bond (MPC 801). The Bond indicates that you agree to submit to the jurisdiction of the Court which is issuing the Letters of Appointment as guardian. You can request that the bond be without sureties, with personal sureties, or with the support of a corporate surety bond. In guardianship matters, the surety is usually waived. The bond must contain the estimated value of the respondent's real estate and personal estate. 

Depending on the circumstances, you may also need:

  • Clinical Team Report (MPC 402) if the respondent has an intellectual disability. The report needs to be completed by a physician, licensed psychologist, and a social worker. The examination of the respondent must have been within 180 days from when the petition is filed. 
  • Special requirements if the respondent is treated with antipsychotic medications. This treatment requires special court authority and is known as having Rogers Authority. If Rogers Authority is requested:
    • A lawyer will be appointed by the Court
    • You'll need to submit Findings and a Treatment Plan for approval by the Court
    • An annual review date will be included in the Decree 

Fees

There may be a fee for service of process, which can vary.

If you're appointed guardian, 1 copy of the "letters of appointment" will be provided to you for free. 

Name Fee Unit
Additional letters of appointment for guardianship $25 each

How to file

File for guardianship of an incapacitated person at the Probate and Family Court where:

  • The incapacitated person lives when the petition is filed or
  • A will nominating the guardian was or could be probated or
  • The incapacitated person is admitted to a facility pursuant to a court order

 

Next steps

Give notice

14 days before the hearing, you'll need to have a disinterested person give notice to the respondent in person by delivering a copy of the petition and the Citation (Notice and Order). You'll also need to give notice by regular, first class mail to:

  • Everyone named in the petition
  • The U.S. Veteran's Administration
  • The Department of Developmental Services (if the respondent is intellectually disabled) 

If you don't know where one of the interested parties is, the court will give your instructions for publicizing the notice in a newspaper selected by the court. You may be eligible for a fee waiver from the court to cover the cost of publication in a Massachusetts newspaper.

You should also file the original Notice of Hearing and Certificate of Service with a signed, completed Return of Service with the court. In cases with service by publication, you should also file:

  • The original uncut tear sheet from the newspaper
  • Any returned, undelivered, certified mail cards which were sent to all interested persons
  • Signed green cards

Any interested person listed in the petition may file an objection to a petition for temporary or permanent guardianship.

More info

If you're appointed as a guardian, you'll need to file Guardian's Care Plan/Report (MPC 821) within 60 days of being appointed as permanent guardian. You'll need to file this form annually.

If the incapacitated person becomes capable of exercising rights that were taken away by the guardianship, you should notify the court immediately. 

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