As your child with special needs nears 18, your fear for their safety grows each day. Once legally an adult, decisions about healthcare, contracts and daily responsibilities will become their own.
If you believe your child is incapable of making medical, financial or other important decisions for themselves, you may want to consider obtaining guardianship once they reach 18.
Things to Consider when Deciding on Guardianship
- Has your child displayed the ability to make sound decisions?
- Does your child still require help with medical care?
- Does your childs still need you to manage their finances?
- Is your child at risk of others taking advantage of them?
- How independent is your child? Can they feed, bathe and dress themselves without your assistance?
Are There Other Options?
Yes! If your child is capable of making most of their own decisions, you can create a power of attorney, or file for conservatorship. Both will allow you to help manage your childs financial affairs, while allowing them independence in many other areas of their life.
When Do I Need to Decide?
It’s critical to decide if you need guardianship of your adult child before they turn 18. It’s a difficult topic to address, but procrastination could turn into disaster.
The guardianship process is lengthy. There are many legal steps that must be followed. A petition to the court for guardianship needs to be submitted well in advance of your childs 18th birthday. If you wait, you risk a lapse in guardianship, forfeiting the right to help your child make health or legal decisions for the length of the lapse.
Your child’s feelings also need to be taken into consideration. Most children have a strong desire for self sufficiency. Discussing guardianship early on will allow time to address any objections and help your child adjust to the idea. If you wait until the last inute to talk about guardianship with your child, you may end up fighting them in court.
How Can a Special Needs Attorney Help?
Filing for guardianship can be a confusing and stressful time. Working with a guardianship attorney will lighten the burden and help you take the correct legal steps to protect your child.
At Smith Barid, we walk our clients throught the entire process. We can help you determine if guardianship is an appropriate option for your child. If it is, we will file the petition for you, and represent you in court.
If you would like to talk to an attorney, or need assistance with guardianship, we’re ready to help! Just call our office at: 912-352-3999.