Parents who have adult children with a disability may need to look at the option of obtaining guardianship of their grown child. It will depend on their child’s ability to remain independent and their capacity to take care of themselves. If a parent feels their child is incapable of making decisions on their own, then that parent can petition the court to obtain guardianship of their adult child.
How to Obtain Guardianship
Guardianship is an essential legal tool that allows an individual or entity to make decisions on behalf of another. To start the process, you would have to file legal papers with the court. Specifically, you will be submitting PC form 625 Petition for Appointment of Guardian for Incapacitated Individual. These legal forms may be available to you online, or you can obtain them at your county court.
These papers will have to explicitly state the physical and mental condition of the person as well as describe that person’s inability to make decisions. You would then go before a judge for a hearing. Other family members are notified of the filing and given a chance to file their papers or contest the proposed guardian. If the court feels that the individual cannot reasonably make decisions on their own, then the court will appoint a guardian who will then make decisions that are in the best interests of the individual.
When to Seek Guardianship
There can be many situations that would facilitate the need to seek guardianship over another person. Some of these instances would include:
- Adult with disabilities
- A person who is in a coma due to an accident and doesn’t have a durable power of attorney
- An older adult who has dementia or other incapacitating condition
For parents of children with disabilities, the thought of guardianship might not arise until that child is nearing adulthood. Before that point, parents automatically made all the decisions for their child. But, when a person is of legal adult age, regardless if they have a disability, have the right to make their own decisions. So, before a child reaches the age where they are considered an adult, the parent must start the process of obtaining guardianship of their adult child.
When to Make the Decision to Seek Guardianship
Realizing that a loved one might need others to make decisions for them can be very difficult to think about for the person who is considering obtaining guardianship. Parents who have disabled children have their child’s best interests at heart and want to do what is necessary to ensure their child has the best quality of life possible. This means that they must realize that their child may not be able to make decisions on their own. As an adult, it doesn’t matter if that child is disabled. Legally, they have the right to make their own decisions regarding money, work and other areas of life. Parents will also have no access to confidential records such as medical and academic records once that child reaches adulthood. Therefore, to protect their child and help them make sound decisions, the time to start the process of seeking guardianship of that child would be before they reach adulthood. In recent times, guardianships are meant to facilitate the independence and self-reliance of incapacitated persons. The courts want to give those individuals as much control over their lives as is reasonably possible.
Powers Given to the Guardian
A guardian is given only those powers that allow the individual with a disability to accomplish what they are unable to achieve on their own. Some of these powers include:
- Making financial and medical decisions
- Assuring the availability and maintenance of care
- Ensuring medical and educational services are maintained and adequate
- Giving updates to the court regarding the disabled individual’s condition
Deciding to become a guardian of your adult child can be difficult. But, if you know that it is in the best interest of your child because they cannot reasonably make sound decisions on their own, then you must take the necessary steps to become their guardian. Your role as a guardian will not be to micromanage your child’s life. It will be, instead, to only help your child accomplish what they may not be able to achieve without your help.
Michael Monheit, Esq is one of the founding lawyers of Monheit Law, P.C. where they are dedicated to the protection of individual rights. The firm specializes in birth injury, brain damage, brachial plexus injuries, negligence and malpractice lawsuits.