If you have been following our blog, you know that there are some circumstances in which adults are assigned guardians to represent their own interests. For the parents of special needs adults, following legal proceedings to obtain the right to serve as their child's legal guardian can be wise option. Even if your child is engaged in full-time employment and resides in an assisted living home, she may need someone to make medical decisions or schedule doctor's appointments. While the law recognizes the age of 18 as the demarcation for independent judgment on finances, medical treatment and living conditions, such deliberations may prove too challenging for adults with special needs.
If you feel that your special needs adult child may need the extra support that a guardian can provide, here are three points to consider:
1. Types of guardian
The role of the guardian is all-encompassing. For this reason, the position can be divided up between individuals. Those who take on the guardian of the person make choices relating to the ward's health care, clothing, food or shelter. A guardian of the property minds the ward's assets: income, money, benefits or other financial matters.
2. Alternatives to guardianship
Adult children may balk at the thought of losing independence through guardianship. High-functioning special needs adults may not need the full range of services that a legal guardian can provide. If this is the case, there are alternatives. Special needs adults can assign power of attorney to trusted individuals, seek family guidance or nominate a family member to serve as a financial representative.
3. Duties of the guardian
Typically, the guardian is given control over tasks the ward cannot complete. In addition to the aforementioned medical, financial, or residential responsibilities, guardians are entrusted with task of maintaining educational services for the ward. Guardians must also remain in contact with the court to keep it informed as to the status of the ward.
The procedures for obtaining guardianship may be complicated and lengthy. For these reasons, it is advised that those interested in following this process meet with a knowledgeable attorney to determine the best course of action.