Practice Areas

Guardianship for Adults with Disabilities

When a person turns 18 years old they are considered to be legally competent to make decisions for themselves. If a person is developmentally disabled or intellectually disabled and cannot make decisions for themselves and is over the age of 18, you can file a petition to become that person’s legal guardian.

A guardianship is a legal proceeding in which most cases a parent or immediate family member asks the court to find that a person is unable to manage his or her affairs because of a disability. A legal guardian can be appointed to make decisions and manage the person’s care. These decisions include but are not limited to decisions relating to housing, food, clothing, school, work and professional care and treatments.

If you have a child with a disability that is turning 18 you may want to consider appointing a guardian for your child. The most common preference is for the child’s parents to become the guardian. However, other family members or another responsible adult can become a person’s guardian. To become your child’s guardian, you must petition the court to appoint you as guardian. The petition should include your relationship to the disabled person as well as a description of the disability. In most cases the disabled person’s treating physician will fill out interrogatories explaining the disability and whether it prevents the person’s ability to properly care for themselves.

There are two attorneys involved in the guardianship. One attorney represents the individuals that are seeking the guardianship. The other attorney is appointed by the court to represent the disabled person. This attorney is known as the Guardian ad Litem. There will be hearing in front of a judge. The judge will decide based on the evidence and the recommendation from the Guardian ad Litem whether a guardianship is necessary and if the proposed guardians are capable to fulfill the responsibilities that come with being a guardian.

In some cases it may be necessary to have a conservator appointed along with the guardianship. A conservator will typically manage the bank accounts, investments and other financial assets of the disabled individual. A conservatorship is generally used when the disabled individual has more financial accounts and property.

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