Maine has codified supported decision-making as a less restrictive alternative to guardianship and conservatorship. Its statutes require that courts first find that the adult cannot make or communicate decisions, even with the use of supported decision-making and other supportive services, before appointing a guardian or conservator. We are aware of only one (unfavorable) case applying these statutes, in addition to one favorable case from before these statutes were passed which held that supported decision-making was an available alternative to guardianship.
Supported Decision-Making Statute
- Supported Decision-Making as incorporated in the Maine Uniform Probate Code:
- Codified at various points, but most relevantly at:
- Me. Stat. tit. 18-C, §§ 5-301, 5-502 (2020).
- Description: This section outlines the requirements for appointing a guardian, including that the adult cannot make personal decisions even with the use of supported decision-making.
- Link to Maine Code sections:
- Link to Enacted Bill: legislature.maine.gov/legis/bills/bills_129th/billtexts/HP111801.asp
- 18-C § 5-401 (Basis for appointment of conservator): https://legislature.maine.gov/statutes/18-C/title18-Csec5-401.html
- Description: This section outlines the requirements for appointing a conservator, including that the adult cannot make property or financial decisions even with the use of supported decision-making.
- 18-C § 5-502 (Basis for protective arrangements instead of guardianship for adult): https://legislature.maine.gov/statutes/18-C/title18-Csec5-502.html
- Description: This section says that before granting a “protective arrangement” instead of guardianship for an adult with a disability (I.e., Authorizing a medical treatment that is necessary for the adult’s health) the court must find that the adult cannot make or communicate personal decisions, even with the use of supported decision-making and other less restrictive supportive services.
- 18-C § 5-503 (Basis for protective arrangements instead of conservatorship for adult or minor): https://legislature.maine.gov/statutes/18-C/title18-Csec5-503.html
- Description: This section says that before granting a “protective arrangement” instead of conservatorship for an adult with a disability (I.e., Authorizing entry into a contract; authorizing sale of property) the court must find that the adult cannot make or communicate financial decisions, even with the use of supported decision-making and other less restrictive supportive services.
- Enacted Legislation:
- HB 1118, 129th Leg., 1st Reg. Sess. (Me. 2019)
- Description: An Act to Correct Errors and Inconsistencies Related to the Maine Uniform Probate Code and To Make Other Substantive Changes (incorporates SDM into the guardianship statute as a less restrictive alternative)
- Status: Effective: July 1, 2019
- Public link [legislature.maine.gov/legis/bills/bills_129th/billtexts/HP111801.asp]
- H.R. 91, 128th Leg., 1st Reg. Sess. (Me. 2017)
- Description: Completely repealed and replaced Maine’s Probate Code and recognized and required consideration of less restrictive alternatives to guardianship, including SDM.
- Status: Enacted 4/20/18
- Public Link [www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/display_ps.asp?ld=123&PID=1456&snum=128]
- H.R. 900, 127th Leg., 1st Reg. Sess. (Me. 2015)
- Description: Required Probate and Trust Law Advisory Commission to examine the concept of SDM, consult with interested parties, and make recommendations concerning inclusion of SDM in the Probate Code, including any proposed legislation, in a report no later than 1/15/17
- Status: Resolved 3/29/16
- Resulting Report [www.supporteddecisionmaking.org/sites/default/files/PATLAC-Report-Supported-Decision-Making.pdf]
- HB 1118, 129th Leg., 1st Reg. Sess. (Me. 2019)
Case Law & Court Orders
- Guardianship of J., 2020 Me. Unpub. LEXIS 91 (S. Ct. Maine 2020) (finding that the trial court did not make a mistake in deciding that J. should be appointed a guardian because J. could not make or communicate decisions, even with the use of supported decision-making).
- In re Joshua Strong, Order of Termination of Guardianship (State of Maine, Knox County Probate Court, Docket No. 2002-0082 (6/6/2018)
- Press Release, Guardianship Terminated in Favor of Supported Decision-Making for the First Time in Maine, June 13, 2018,
Source: Disability Rights Maine
- Article: He’s 42, autistic – and finally on his own,
Source: Eric Russell, Portland Press Herald (Sept. 1, 2019),
State Grant Programs
- 2015/2016 Grantee: Disability Rights Maine (https://drme.org/)
- Summary: The NRC-SDM state grantee in Maine created a fully accessible website (www.supportmydecisions.org) dedicated to the practice of Supported Decision-Making. The website features videos showing people talking about and using Supported Decision-Making, tools to encourage the practice of Supported Decision-Making, and news reflecting the outreach and action steps of Maine’s Supported Decision-Making Coalition. The Maine grantee also convened and led several meetings of Maine’s Supported Decision-Making Coalition; a partnership of aging adults, individuals with disabilities, and agencies representing and supporting individuals with disabilities whose collective goal is to educate the public on and promote Supported Decision-Making as a legitimate and appropriate alternative to guardianship. Coalition members attended meetings; distributed Supported Decision-Making materials; and promoted Supported Decision-Making on their organization’s website. The Maine grantee also led 16 educational training sessions for individuals, family members, and professionals across the state, reaching over 700 people.
- Final report: https://www.supporteddecisionmaking.org/sites/default/files/sdm-cop-2016-maine.pdf
- 2015/2017 Grantee: Disability Rights Maine (https://drme.org/)
- Summary: DRM created a Pilot Project, in collaboration with three people with disabilities subject to full or limited guardianship and their service agency in Lincoln County, Maine, to design and complete a three-month long course on decision-making, which ended in the creation of Supported Decision-Making agreements. Two of the three participants are pursuing or plan to soon pursue restoration of their legal rights, and the other plans to so in the future. An independent researcher, Valerie Smith, Ph.D., then completed an in-depth report on the project, including next step suggestions for DRM and the agency. In addition to its Pilot, DRM, in collaboration with a self-advocate, conducted outreach and training on Supported Decision- Making to people with disabilities, family members, service providers, and State employees throughout Maine. At least 8 outreach and training events were conducted, reaching over 310 attendees. In addition, DRM incorporated information on Supported Decision-Making into its quarterly rights training sponsored by Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services for State employers and providers of developmental disabilities services across the state in all regions, as well as its regular rights trainings at home and community based agencies. Finally, DRM significantly updated its Supported Decision-Making resource website (www.supportmydecision.org).
- Contact: Nell Brimmer, Disability Rights Maine, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-626-2774, ext. 205
- Supported Decision Making Fact Sheet
Source: Disability Rights Maine, SDM Factsheet
- Website: Maine’s Supported Decision-Making Coalition
Source: University of Maine Center on Community Inclusion and Disability Studies
- Publication: Disability Rights Maine, Supported Decision-Making: A User’s Guide for People with Disabilities and Their Supporters
Source: Support My Decision (July 19, 2019)
- PowerPoint: Maine Presentation at NRC-SDM National Symposium (June 2019)
- PowerPoint: Disability Rights Maine, Maine Parent Coalition Supported Decision Making PPT
(search completed 04/12/2021)
Information Last Updated: July 21, 2022