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MO Guardianship: Understanding Your Options & Alternatives. This project is sponsored by the Missouri Planning Council on Developmental Disabilities (MPCDD) Developed by: UMKC Institute for Human Development (UCEDD) 215 W. Pershing, 6thFloor Kansas City, MO 64108

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MO Guardianship:

Understanding Your

Options & Alternatives

This project is sponsored by the

Missouri Planning Council on Developmental Disabilities (MPCDD)

Developed by:

UMKC Institute for Human Development (UCEDD)

215 W. Pershing, 6thFloor

Kansas City, MO 64108

(816) 235-1770

In collaboration with:

Missouri Protection and Advocacy Services


People First of Missouri

jane st john
Jane St. John
  • University of Missouri, Kansas City – Institute for Human Development, UCEDD
  • Individual Advocacy and Family Support
  • Mom to Ben & Matt

To empower individuals with developmental disabilities or special healthcare needs, their families, and key supporters to make informed decisions as they consider options and alternatives for achieving an appropriate level of support and/or protection.

common responses
Common Responses
  • A child with a developmental disability or special healthcare need is about to reach the age of 18
  • Been told by a school administrator, teacher, service provider or other professional that they need guardianship to maintain their rights to provide support and/or protection for someone they care about
  • Being pressured by someone to file for guardianship
  • Worried about the well-being of someone they care about
  • Feel that someone they care about is at risk of being taken advantage of
  • Because someone they care for or someone they work with is experiencing a difficult time.

Helping you understand how to:

1. BALANCE SUPPORT & PROTECTION with autonomy and self-determination.


to full/plenary guardianship for the appropriate level of decision-making support and/or protection.

3. ACCESS ALTERNATIVES TO GUARDIANSHIP, as well as accessing Missouri courts to pursue guardianship options.


Protection & Assistance with

Autonomy &


“Every person can make choices and has a right to make decisions.

~ Dohn Hoyle, The Arc of Michigan

It is important to remember that all adults are presumed competent to make choices about their lives. Sometimes, because of limited cognitive or communication skills, a person may need help making or expressing decisions.
Making person-centered decisions…
  • Involves a support group/team of family members, friends, professionals and most importantly, the individual.
  • Individual chooses the members.
  • Individual identifies areas in which the individual may need assistance and support and decide how the team/support group can help meet those needs.
“Any legal system or proceeding which deprives an individual of her/his right to be accommodated and supported in choosing and making decisions, and which appoints a substitute decision-maker based on tests of competence,

makes that person vulnerable and

deprives him/her not only

of his/her right to self-determination, but also of other rights…”

~ Dohn Hoyle, The Arc of Michigan

What is Guardianship?

Missouri Revised Statutes

Chapter 475 Probate Code--Guardianship

(6) "Guardian", one appointed by a court to have the care and custody of the person of a minor or of an incapacitated person. A "limited guardian" is one whose duties or powers are limited. The term "guardian", as used in this chapter, includes "limited guardian" unless otherwise specified or apparent from the context;

plenary or full guardianship
Plenary or “Full” Guardianship
  • where to live
  • who they live with
  • who they associate with
  • where they may go in the community
  • whether or not to marry
  • whether or not to work
  • how to spend money
  • right to vote
  • who provides personal care
  • consent or object to medical care
  • enter into contracts (such as home ownership, rental agreements, marriage)
  • obtain a driver’s license
  • Employment
  • Money Management
  • Health & Nutrition
  • Relationships
  • Personal Safety
  • Community Living
  • Personal Decision-Making
  • Determining & Directing Services and Supports
  • Friends & Family
  • Advocacy Organizations
  • Community Supports
  • Systems Supports
  • Personal Contract/Agency Agreement
  • Power of Attorney
  • Health Care Power of Attorney
  • Limited and/or Joint Bank Accounts, Direct Deposit, and Automatic Bill Pay
  • Living Trust
  • Special Needs Trust
  • Adult Protective Services
  • Protection Order/TRO
What can you access on your own?
  • Friends/Family
  • Advisors/Advocacy Organizations
  • Community Supports
  • Representative Payee
  • Limited and/or Joint Bank Accounts
  • Direct Deposit and Automatic Bill Pay
  • Protection Orders (TRO)
  • Personal Contract/Agency Agreement
What might you need an attorney to access?
  • Durable Power of Attorney
  • Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
  • Living Will
  • Living Trust
  • Special Needs Trust
  • Adult Protective Services
  • Limited Guardianship
  • Full/Plenary Guardianship

Plenary /Full Guardianship


Limited Guardianship

Which court should the petition be filed in?
  • Filed with clerk of court in the county where you live:
    • Petition
    • Form
    • Cost
Who can file?
  • Parent or family member
  • Person with disability or special healthcare need
  • Potential Guardian
  • Someone who is responsible for the person’s care
  • A facility providing care, like a hospital or nursing home
  • ANY other interested party
What will the court do?
  • Schedule a hearing
  • Send notices
  • Order medical and/or psychological evaluation
  • May appoint an attorney and/or guardian ad litem
  • Question ward, proposed guardian, and witnesses
What information do I need to have ready to give my attorney in order to achieve the desired outcome?


Does the court have to follow my instructions and/or request for who is to be appointed guardian?
  • Not necessarily.
  • The final decision rests with the court.
  • The court will appoint your nominee if it determines that he or she is eligible to act and would serve in the ward’s best interest.
What will the Court do?
  • Write an Order including the following findings of fact:
  • The extent of your physical and/or mental incapacity to care for yourself;
  • The extent of your physical and/or mental disability to manage your finances
  • Whether or not you require placement in a supervised living situation, and, if so, the level of supervision you need; and
  • Whether or not you need supervision to manage your finances, and, if so, the level of supervision you need.
What will the Court do? (cont.)
  • Depending upon your level of incapacitation or disability as determined above, the Court will then Order:
  • The appointment of a Guardian or Conservator ad litem;
  • The appointment of a Limited Guardian and/or Limited Conservator; or
  • The appointment of a Full Guardian and/or Full Conservator.

Duties and Powers

  • Place you in your least restrictive environment;
  • Provide your medical care;
  • Promote your care, comfort, health, safety and welfare;
  • Provide consent on your behalf; and
  • Exercise power to ensure you receive all of the above
  • Protect, preserve and manage your estate;
  • Invest your assets prudently;
  • Account for your property;
  • Perform all other duties required by law; and
  • Upon termination, surrender your assets.
Where do I get more information?

MO Guardianship: Understanding Your Options and Alternatives

Resource Guide

mo protection advocacy services
MO Protection & Advocacy Services

Jefferson City Office (Administration)925 S. Country Club DriveJefferson City, MO 65109Tel: 573-893-3333 / 866-777-7199Fax: 573-893-4231

Jefferson City Office

(Application Unit)925 S. Country Club DriveJefferson City, MO 65109Tel: 573-659-0678 / 800-392-8667Fax: 573-659-0677

St. Louis Office1992 Innerbelt Business Center DriveOverland, MO 63114Tel: 314-785-1702 / 800-233-3958

Kansas City Office3100 Main Street, Suite 207Kansas City, MO 64111Tel: 816-756-1001 / 800-233-3959

Fulton OfficeP.O. Box 6187Fulton, MO 65251Tel: 573-592-2738 (JC office X-20)

umkc institute for human development
UMKC Institute for Human Development

UMKC Institute for Human Development, UCEDD215 W. Pershing, 6th FloorKansas City, Missouri 64108

816.235.1770    Phone800.452.1185    TTY888-503-3107    Fax

800.444.0821 Mo. Family to Family Resource Center

MO Guardianship:

Understanding Your

Options & Alternatives

Thank you for participating!