Whether a parent of a special needs child closing in on 18 or a disabled individual who is looking to the future; planning for future decision making is imperative. There are several factors to consider when thinking about decision making authority. It’s possible that the disabled person is mostly able to care for themselves; yet needs some assistance in limited circumstances. Or it may be that the person needs an “all-in” caregiver that can manage all the person’s affairs. Guardianships and Powers of Attorney are some of the tools that we can use to help in these circumstances.
Special Needs Children Turning 18
Parents or guardians of special needs children travel a unique path through life. While the special needs child is under 18 the parent or guardian has authority to make decisions for the child. From routine decisions about clothing and diet to major decisions about proper schooling, therapy, and medical care the child’s caregiver has always been involved. Yet that may change when the child reaches 18.
Special needs children who reach the age of majority often need their caregiver to remain very active in their lives and assist them with decision making. Sometimes a power of attorney may be an appropriate solution. They are faster, less expensive, and less intrusive than a guardianship. Yet there are certainly limitations as well. The child will need to truly understand what is going on and what rights he or she is giving up. While the caregiver will be able to continue making decisions for the child; this model may also leave the child open to abuse.
Guardianships are perhaps the most common way for caregivers to assist special needs children with decision making after they turn 18. A Guardianship will generally allow the caregiver to make important lifetime decisions for the special need child. It will also help protect the child from persons who would take advantage of them; a very real threat at the child ages.
Whether to use of a power of attorney or guardianship is an important conversation to have for any caregiver of a special needs child. At Thomas Smith Law Firm we take the time to listen and learn about you and the special needs child in your life. We will help you determine the best model for helping with his or her decisions after 18.
Disabled Persons Over 18
Not every disability occurs before age 18. Whether you or your loved one was injured in an accident, diagnosed with an illness, or injured in the line of duty; the disability is just as real regardless of age.
In many cases you may be disabled and perfectly capable of handling your affairs. Still, there may be a time when you will need assistance. A properly drafted power of attorney may be a good solution that will allow a loved one to help you in your time of need.
In other cases you may have a loved one whose age of onset was later in life. Maybe this person needs assistance with decision making today, or you are concerned they will in the future. In either event we are happy to sit, listen, and learn so that we can offer you legal counsel specific to your situation. No two cases are the same and we take pride in finding a solution that helps you in your unique experience.
Deciding how decisions will be made for you and your loved one in the future, and who will make them, is a challenging, unique, and personal experience. If we can help you work through this process please call or email us for a fee consultation.