By:  Attorney Alison C. Petri

Parents have many questions when their child with disabilities is about to turn age eighteen (18).  Once your child is an adult you will no longer have the same ability to legally access or assist with your child’s financial or health care decision making.  What legal documentation your child needs to get assistance with such issues depends on your child’s disability and their capacity to execute legal documents.

The goal is to implement a plan that is the least restrictive for your child while at the same time protecting your child’s safety.  The current available options are to have your child:

  • Make decisions independently where you, as parent, would have no legal authority to support or do any health care or financial decision making on your child’s behalf.
  • Execute documents to allow him/her to obtain supported decision-making with a trusted adult.  This allows your child to maintain all decision making but allows you to assist in such decision making.
  • Execute powers of attorney appointing an agent to assist with health care and financial decision making.  This also allows your child to retain rights to act on their own behalf but also allows the agent to assist with such decisions and take actions, as your child would want, on their behalf.
  • File in court a guardianship which will remove rights from your child and transfer them to a guardian.  This prevents a child from to do things on their own behalf, per court order, and transfers that right to a trusted adult will be able to make those decisions in your child’s best interests.

Whatever option is elected can be changed as your child matures.

It is recommended that prior to your child turning eighteen (18) that you start to plan towards your child becoming an adult.  This generally means to start talking with Social Security Administration, the Aging and Disability Resource Center, and an estate planning attorney familiar with planning for adult children with disabilities.  The maze of services and service providers available can be overwhelming but you can put a good team in place to help guide you and your family.

It is important to discuss with a trusted attorney any questions about planning for your child with disabilities.   Please contact me if you need us to be your guide.

This blog post is provided for informational purposes only and by its very nature is general.  This information is not intended as legal advice.

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