One of the many decisions that parents need to make before a special needs child becomes a legal adult is whether the child needs a guardian, or if the parents need a power of attorney, as detailed in a helpful article from Effingham (IL) Daily News, “Teaching parents about guardianship of disabled children.”
Once a child is age 18, the parent is no longer the child's legal guardian. This means you should identify the support required for your special needs child and ask what other support they need, while they’re transitioning. Work with a special needs attorney and ask about guardianship. Guardianship is a way to protect an individual who can’t take care of themself, make informed decisions or handle financial assets. An experienced attorney will explain guardianship and alternatives that may be chosen, if the child is capable of making some, but not all, decisions on thier own. There are different kinds of guardianships and different kinds of powers of attorney (POA) for estate and health care requirements.
A person can be disabled in some ways, but still be competent to execute the powers of attorney. If the person understands who their family is, who they are, if they are oriented to time, and they know who they trust to handle their business or health care decisions, then the person can probably sign powers of attorney.
A POA is written authorization to represent a person and make specific decisions on thier behalf. The child may have a POA over health care or estate management. A guardianship of the child’s health care or estate management is appointed by a judge, after reviewing physician statements about the disabled person's needs.
Remember that having power of attorney over their child's financial matters, doesn't give parents power over everything. Things not covered in the POA document are things over which the agent doesn't have the authority. A POA can be revoked, when the person assigning it is competent. However, in a guardianship appointed by the court, you have a duty to act, until the court determines otherwise.
You’ll need a physician’s report that clearly states that the allegedly disabled person needs to have a guardian, and the report should include very specific reasons. Guardianship needs to be as narrow as possible. A special needs attorney can guide you through this process to protect your loved one.
For more information on how Family Estate Planning Law Group can assist you in special needs planning, seeking guardianship, and appropriately planning for your child in your estate, visit our website today and schedule your consultation today!
Reference: Effingham (IL) Daily News (April 15, 2018) “Teaching parents about guardianship of disabled children”