Guardianship of Special Needs Adults

down syndrome coupleWhen a special needs child becomes a legal adult, the power of choice is transferred from parents or guardians to the special needs adult. In order for important decisions about medical treatments, personal finance and everyday life to be made correctly, parents or loved ones should consider filing for guardianship.

Types of Guardianship

There are two main types of guardianship. Becoming the legal guardian of a person allows you to make important decisions about healthcare, housing, food, clothing and other care needs. You can also be the guardian of property, which gives you the power to make decisions about your loved one’s finances, income, property and public benefits. In many cases, you can receive both types of guardianship depending on how much assistance your loved one needs.

When is a guardian necessary?

An important part of deciding if you should become your child or loved one’s guardian is determining his or her competency. To become a legal guardian, a judge must first decide if your loved one does not have the capability to care for him or herself or to make informed decisions. In order to determine competency, a doctor can provide a statement describing your loved one’s level of competency, ability to make decisions and a medical prognosis and diagnosis.

For some special needs adults, guardianship can be too restrictive. Exploring other options like creating a Medical or Financial Power of Attorney will help you decide if guardianship is the best option.

Who should be named as guardian?

After deciding to appoint a guardian, normally the parents of the special needs adult will assume guardianship. If the person’s parents are not able to be guardians, an adult sibling or other family member can become the guardian. If close family members or friends are unable to assume guardianship, the court will appoint a professional guardian.

When an appointed guardian can no longer care for their loved one, a new guardian will be appointed to continue care. As the parents of a special needs adult age, they may become unable to provide proper care for their child and a new guardian will be appointed.

Obtaining guardianship

In order to become your loved one’s guardian, you must petition the court for guardianship. The petition contains all the important facts about your relationship with your loved one and why guardianship is necessary. The process of obtaining guardianship can be costly and difficult. Seeking the assistant of a special needs attorney can expedite the process and ensure the proper decisions are made for your child or loved one.

Duties and responsibilities of a guardian

Once appointed as your child or loved one’s guardian, the court will provide an outline of the duties and powers given to you. The outlined responsibilities and duties will be only those that the court has determined your loved one is unable to manage.

Guardians are normally required to provide the court with regular report, which outlines the guardian’s actions to verify the person’s needs are being met. The court will review the report to determine if any modifications should be made or if the guardian is not meeting the needs of the special needs adult.

If you are considering becoming your child or loved one’s guardian, consult your loved one’s doctors and a special needs attorney to determine the best course of action.

If you are outside the Pennsylvania and greater Philadelphia area, contact a family law attorney NJ for your legal needs.

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