When you have a child with special needs and he or she requires 24/7 care, it is important that you make arrangements for a guardian for him or her after the child reaches 18. If you are unable to care for the child, the guardian can step in and help with the child's needs. If you are in the process of establishing a guardian for your child, here are some steps to take.
Assess the Need for the Guardianship
Before you can establish a guardianship, it is a good idea to assess whether or not one is actually needed. The guardian is responsible for making decisions for your child's care, finances, and living situation. As a result, even though your child will be 18 years of age, he or she loses the authority to make decisions.
If your child is capable of making some decisions, there might be alternatives to establishing a guardianship. For instance, you can set up a trust to help watch over your child's financial needs. Your child would retain authority over other aspects of his or her life, and the trust would ensure that financial needs are met.
Talk to Your Child's Doctors
Establishing guardianship for your child might prove more difficult than you think. Some courts are reluctant to restrict the needs of adult persons without good cause. To avoid a delay in setting guardianship, it is important that you get your child's doctors involved.
The doctors can help prove that your child is unable to care for himself or herself. The doctors can write a detailed report that explains exactly what abilities and disabilities your child has. For instance, if your child has trouble with taking medications, handling finances, and overseeing his or her personal hygiene, the report can note this.
Choose the Guardian
Perhaps one of the most difficult challenges you will face is determining who should be your child's guardian. Ideally, the guardian should be a family member or friend who is familiar with your child and understands his or her needs.
However, if there is not a family member or friend that is available to care for your child in the event that you are unable to, consider a professional guardian. A professional guardian is paid to ensure that your child is cared for. Your state's Department of Health can help you locate an agency that can help with caring for your child.
There are many other tasks that need to be completed before guardianship can be established. Work with a family law attorney to receive advice and start the process or contact a firm like Haslam & Perri LLP for more information.