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Supported Decision Making: A Less Restrictive Alternative to Guardianship

Blog by Rana Goodman


Shortly before the last legislative session I attended a seminar outlining the concept of supported decision making as an alternative to guardianship.  The concept was ideal and made so much sense that I was thrilled when the Nevada legislature passed the bill into law. The question now is how one convinces the Clark County Court system overall to accept such a plan and give seniors who are brought into Family court facing guardianship this option.

Each one of us can probably lay claim to the many times that we have gone into a room, stopped and realized that we have no idea what we went there for. We go to the grocery store and forget one or two of the main things we went for, does that mean we need a guardian? Of course not.          

As we age, many people might need help with different things in daily life, some with balancing their bookkeeping, some with basic cooking and cleaning, some might need help staying organized in order to schedule and keep their appointments (there is an app for that) just kidding…. How about making the decision to sell some property, stocks, or even move to another state? These are all things that would or could fall under SUPPORTED DECISION MAKING. 

The point is that no person should ever have to be removed from their home or be forced to hand over control of their life to guardianship when a helping hand would suffice. So long as a person still has reasonable independent thought, guardianship, which turns over control of every single thing you own to that guardian, should not be the only means to assist people. 

Please consider Nevada’s Supported Decision Making bill, passed into law July of 2019 as your option for staying safe and in control of your life.

Assembly Bill 480 (SDM) notes from the Legislative Counsel’s Digest:

This bill establishes the Supported Decision-Making Act, (SDM) which authorizes an adult with a disability to enter into a supported decision-making agreement in which he or she designates one or more supporters to provide assistance when  making decisions or engaging in certain other activities. 

This bill authorizes an adult to enter into a supported decision-making agreement at any time.  The adult must enter into the agreement voluntarily and understands the nature and effect of the agreement. This section also sets forth the requirements for a supported decision-making agreement and stipulates that such an agreement can be terminated in writing or verbally, with notice to the other parties.  

Section 13 of the bill expressly prohibits the existence of a supported decision-making agreement from being used as evidence of an adult’s incapacity. 

 An adult should receive the most effective, yet least restrictive and intrusive, form of support, assistance or protection when the adult is unable to manage his or her affairs alone; and the values, beliefs, wishes, cultural norms and traditions that an adult holds should be respected in managing his or her affairs.

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