File for guardianship of an incapacitated person

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

Probate and Family Court locations

The Details   of File for guardianship of an incapacitated person

What you need   for File for guardianship of an incapacitated person

The Probate and Family Court may assign 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 ask to become a guardian for an incapacitated person, first you need to decide what type of guardianship you want to file for: plenary (complete) or limited. You can learn more about the types of guardianship on the page responsibilities of a guardian of an incapacitated person.

Next, you'll need to file these forms:

  • Petition for Appointment of Guardian for an Incapacitated Person (MPC 120) For plenary guardianship, you must check the box explaining why you need more than limited powers. For a limited guardianship, you must include the Exhibit that lists recommended Limitations to Powers.
  • Medical Certificate (MPC 400) This certificate needs to be completed and signed by a registered physician, licensed psychologist, or certified psychiatric nurse clinical specialist. The incapacitated person must be examined within 30 days of when the petition is filed.
  • Bond (MPC 801) The Bond confirms that you agree to the jurisdiction of the court that is issuing the Letters of Appointment as guardian. You can request that the bond is without sureties, with personal sureties, or with the support of a corporate surety bond. In guardianships, the surety is usually waived. The bond must include the estimated value of the incapacitated person's real estate and personal estate. 

Depending on the circumstances, you may also need to file these forms:

  • Clinical Team Report (MPC 402) if the person has an intellectual disability. The report needs to be filled out by a physician, licensed psychologist, and a social worker. The incapacitated person must be examined within 180 days from when the petition is filed.
  • Military Affidavit if an appearance hasn’t been filed by or on behalf of the incapacitated person. If the case is contested (someone has filed an objection), this is generally not required.
  • Military Affidavit Instructions for Self-Represented Litigants If you do not have a lawyer and are representing yourself in a case, use these simplified instructions to help you fill out the Military Affidavit form.
  • Special requirements if the incapacitated person is treated with antipsychotic medications. This treatment requires special court authority and is called a Rogers Authority. If you request a Rogers Authority:
    • A lawyer will be appointed by the court
    • You'll need to submit Findings and a Treatment Plan for the court to approve
    • The Decree will include an annual review date

Some of these forms may not display properly in your browser. Please download the form(s) you need and open them in Acrobat Reader. For more information, please see What to do if you can't open court PDFs.

Fees   for File for guardianship of an incapacitated person

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

If you're appointed guardian, the court will give you a copy of the "letters of appointment" for free.

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

How to file   File for guardianship of an incapacitated person

File for guardianship at the Probate and Family Court in the county 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 under a court order

You can mail the forms and fees to the correct Probate & Family Court.

You can eFile your forms online at eFileMA. For more information on how to eFile, please see eFiling in the Probate and Family Court.

Next steps   for File for guardianship of an incapacitated person

Give notice

You need to ask a disinterested person (someone who has no stake in the case) to give notice to the incapacitated person in person by delivering a copy of the petition and the citation (Notice and Order) 14 days before the hearing. You'll also need to give notice by regular, first class mail to:

If you don't know where one of the interested parties is, the court will give you instructions for how to publish the notice in a newspaper the court chooses. You may be eligible for a fee waiver to cover the cost of publishing the notice 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. If you published the notice, 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 can file an objection to the petition for temporary or permanent guardianship - Notice of Appearance (and Objection) (MPC 505a)

More info   for File for guardianship of an incapacitated person

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

If the incapacitated person becomes able to exercise rights that were taken away by the guardianship, you should tell the court immediately.

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Contact   for File for guardianship of an incapacitated person

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