Understanding the process of applying for legal guardianship for adults with disabilities can get complicated. To help, we’ve broken down what guardianship is and how to appoint one.

What is Guardianship?

Guardianship is the legal authority to make decisions for an adult who is incapable of doing so themselves. It means taking care of the person you are responsible for and ensuring that their needs are being met.

Legal guardians are appointed by the court. They are given legal responsibilities and decision-making powers over an adult. Adults with disabilities are often appointed a guardian after they turn 18.

What can a Legal Guardian do?

The powers of a legal guardian depend on what type of guardianship the court awards you. Some guardianships are more limited than others. You might have medical authority, financial authority, or more.

Legal Guardianship for Adults with Disabilities

For disabled persons, guardians are usually in charge of arranging proper care, vocational training, and other day-to-day decisions. When needed, legal guardians for disabled adults usually have medical decision-making powers as well.

How to Get Legal Guardianship for a Disabled Adult

Some disabled adults do not need a guardian. If they are able to care for and protect themselves, then guardianship is likely not needed. Legal guardianship should only be pursued when the adult in question is unable to properly care for themselves.

The first step in acquiring guardianship is determining whether the adult is incapacitated. An attorney will be appointed for the disabled adult to act in their best interest. If it is determined that the adult is unable to make and understand decisions for themselves, the court will move forward.

If you have put yourself forward as a candidate for guardianship, this will be reviewed by the court. The type of guardianship and the person appointed to be a guardian is determined through the court as well.

Choosing a Guardian for an Adult with Special Needs

Anyone who meets the minimum qualifications to serve as a guardian can petition for guardianship. The courts will usually appoint someone who has a close relationship with the special needs adult. A parent or an adult sibling are common examples.

For adults who will require more in-depth care, it may be more difficult to choose a guardian. Adult siblings with their own children or aging parents aren’t always the best choice. In these cases, it’s important to choose someone who can dedicate the time to looking after the disabled adult.

It may be necessary to have a successor guardian. It is possible to nominate a guardian in your will, however, they will not necessarily be appointed. Rather, the court will take your preference into account when appointing a new guardian.

Here are the most important things to consider when choosing who will serve as a guardian.

  • Someone who has the ward’s best interest in mind
  • Someone who is willing to serve as guardian
  • Someone who is able to serve as a guardian

Understanding Guardianship for Adults with Special Needs

It is best to consult legal counsel when pursuing guardianship for an adult with special needs. An attorney will help outline the options available to you. Here are some of the types of guardianships commonly used for disabled adults.

It’s important to consider how much support your loved one will need. Pursuing more extreme options may be more restrictive than is necessary. Plenary guardianships, for example, give complete authority to the guardian and can be unduly restrictive.

An attorney will help guide you to the best type of guardianship for your situation.

The Court’s Role in Legal Guardianship for Adults With Disabilities

If you plan to pursue legal guardianship for adults with disabilities, you have the right to petition the court for guardianship. After doing so, the court will take charge of determining whether you will be awarded guardianship or not.

With your legal counsel, you can take the steps to acquire whatever type of guardianship you think is needed. However, the court will need to make the determination that the adult in question needs a guardian. They will also decide whether or not the level of guardianship you’ve asked for is warranted.

Start the Steps of Legal Guardianship

The first step to acquiring legal guardianship is finding counsel. If you’re looking for an expert to help you with this, schedule a free consultation with The Legacy Lawyers. You can give us a call at 800-840-1998.