The topic of guardianship over a loved one with a disability can be emotional for some families. People with cognitive disabilities, and those who care about them, often have different ideas about whether guardianship is a good idea or not. Like most things, it depends on the situation. Below are some frequently asked questions about guardianship?
1. As a parent, am I automatically the guardian for my adult son or daughter with a disability?
No. At the age of 18, the law considers a person emancipated, regardless of the severity of the disability. Only a judge can appoint a guardian for a person over the age of 18.
2. How do I become my child’s guardian?
A parent must initiate a fairly simple court proceeding in order to be designated guardian. This can be done prior to the age of 18, or at any time after that.
3. What does a guardian do?
A guardian makes all decisions about the care and treatment of the person under guardianship.
4. Who should serve as guardian?
A guardian is the person’s chief advocate, so he or she should have an interest in the person with a disability and be willing to take the time to learn about the person’s needs. Ideally, the person selected as a guardian should live close to the individual and know where to turn for professional help in making decisions. Most often, it is a parent or other family member who establishes guardianship.
5. Are there alternatives to guardianship?
YES!!! If full guardian ship is not necessary, other options include Financial Power of Attorney or Medical Power of Attorney.
Most states will offer free legal council if you are wondering if guardianship is right for your loved one. This is an important decision to make as your child becomes an adult.