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Resources for Guardians, Family Members, and Friends

This web page is intended to focus specifically on how guardians, family members, and friends can support self-determination for people with disabilities.  For additional resources on self-directed supports and self-determination, please go to Resources for People with Disabilities.

How to support self-determination

  • Views on Guardianship, by People First Wisconsin (a self-advocacy organization) discusses how "personal guardians" (not "legal guardians") and support agencies can help people with disabilities survive well.
  • Guardianship and Self-directed Supports (PDF) by Roy Froemming, Wisconsin
  • Challenging Incompetence: The Meaning of Self-Determination, by Thomas Nerney, Center for Self-Determination. What is self-determination? How does pursuing guardianship fit with the philosophy of self-determination? This article delves into these complex issues. How must guardianship be re-thought in order to ensure that basic human rights are kept and self-determination supported regardless of the level or type of disability, while ensuring that people receive the protection and support they need? In includes stories of how people with disabilities have been valued and devalued throughout recent history.
  • Guardianship of Adults (PDF) - This handbook provides an overview of Wisconsin's guardianship law, updated to reflect 2006 changes in guardianship laws and 2010 changes in the laws affecting durable financial powers of attorney. It has been updated from a 1998 version by Roy Froemming JD and Betsy Abrahamson JD. It also addresses questions that are often asked about the nature, purpose and effects of guardianship, alternatives to guardianship and ways to tailor guardianship to individual needs.

Alternatives that support decision-making

  • Alternatives to Guardianship (Nebraska) Guardianship is one form of surrogate decision making - the most restrictive choice when someone needs assistance making decisions. This fact sheet describes a range of choices that can be considered when exploring how to support someone's decision making.
  • Advance Directives - Living Will, Power of Attorney - The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has advance directive forms available online. These forms are designed to be completed without the assistance of an attorney. However, you may want to seek legal advice from an attorney, given your particular circumstances or concerns.
  • Representative Payee - Social Security's Representative Payee Program provides financial management for the Social Security and SSI payments of beneficiaries who are incapable of managing their Social Security or SSI payments.

Financial Planning Resources

  • One Step Ahead - Resource Planning for People with Disabilities Who Rely on SSI and MA (Roy Froemming / WI-BPDD) - This very popular financial planning resource provides specific information and examples as to how people with disabilities can own or benefit from money, homes, and other property in ways that will not jeopardize their chances of receiving and keeping SSI and MA benefits.
  • Frequently Asked Questions: Third Party Supplemental Needs Trusts (Roy Froemming) - An overview of supplemental needs trusts established for the benefit of a person with a disability using funds that were not owned by the beneficiary before the trust was created. Third party trusts are often created by parents in order to direct some of their own assets, now or after their death, to assist the beneficiary.
  • Frequently Asked Questions: Self-Funded Supplemental Needs Trusts (Roy Froemming) - An overview of supplemental needs trusts established using funds that were owned by the beneficiary, or funds to which the beneficiary was entitled, before the trust was created.
  • WisPACT (Wisconsin Pooled & Community Trusts) - is a Wisconsin nonprofit corporation that establishes and manages pooled third-party and self-funded supplemental needs trusts that provide for the special needs of persons with disabilities, without endangering their eligibility for public benefits.
  • The ARC of Dane County - The ARC of Dane County’s Board maintains a list of attorneys that are skilled in guardianship and estate planning for people with developmental disabilities.
  • Employment Resources Inc (ERI) – Provides employment and benefits counseling, assistive technology, and community outreach services to people with disabilities who are considering or pursuing employment.

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