Financial planner Ryan Platt relies on his advice to parents confused about applying for young adult guardianship.
In the last issue, I started answering questions about guardianship. A guardian is a person who is legally responsible for the care of another person. As the parent of a diagnosed child, this means that you retain the role of “decision maker” parent when your child turns 18.
Q. Can I undertake the guardianship myself or do I need a lawyer?
For those living in the United States, in most areas you can apply for guardianship on your own, without the assistance of an attorney. You will need to contact your county clerk and request the guardianship documents. You will need to confirm the type of document you will need to provide to the court for guardianship to be granted.
Your child will receive their own court-appointed representative called a guardian ad litem, designed to ensure that guardianship is necessary. This is not an adversarial relationship, but purely informational to ensure that the court does the right thing for your child and for you to grant guardianship.
You will also have a hearing where a judge will make the final guardianship decision. In some parts of the country this may be informal, in others it will be more of a formal legal process.
If you are considering a more limited guardianship situation and want to retain certain rights and privileges for your child, such as having a driver’s license, it is probably best to hire an experienced guardianship attorney so that all the details are completed. correctly.
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Q. Are there alternatives to guardianship?
The answer to this question depends on the definition of “alternatives”. Guardianship is a legal process that gives one person the legally binding decision-making power of another person. There is no alternative to this from the court’s point of view. However, there may be other options that may work for your family.
If you are unsure of guardianship, you may want to consider a power of attorney (durable and health). These documents allow your child to choose who they would like to make decisions for them, but only in cases where they do not have the capacity. If your adult child signs a power of attorney, the lawyer who has him sign these documents certifies that your child has the capacity at the time to sign these documents.
This means that your adult child understands the documents, can explain what they are doing, and understands the impact of these decisions on health and money choices.
Power of attorney only comes into play when your adult child no longer demonstrates the ability to have the ability, which is more than likely when they are in an emergency situation such as an accident that renders them unconscious or even comatose. Powers of attorney do not replace guardianship and do not give you the same legal rights to be the final decision maker for your child.
Q. What is supported decision making?
Supported decision making is becoming increasingly popular, or at least part of the conversation. It can be helpful for adults with special needs to make decisions about medical care, housing options, and day-to-day life choices. The disabled adult creates a pseudo-board of trusted friends, family and professionals to help make decisions.
There are a handful of states that offer formalized, accompanied decision-making agreements that provide guidelines on the decision-making process and the roles of each team member. This type of arrangement does not offer the same type of legal protection for the disabled adult as guardianship, but it is definitely something to consider if it is right for your family and loved one.
This article was featured in Issue 125 – Unpacking ABA Therapy
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