Guardianship 101

Who Needs a Guardian?

Guardians are appointed by a court when a person (referred to as a ward) is deemed to be incapacitated. This means that the adult must be substantially unable to provide food, clothing, and shelter; or to care for their own physical health or manage financial affairs.

Why is a Guardianship Important?

Special needs children become legal adults at age 18. Consider the range of decisions and responsibilities that will transfer to these adults as they become of age:

• If your child has a health issue, you may no longer be included in medical decisions or have access to their medical records.
• If your child has a legal problem, the court system has no obligation to consult with you even if you are the primary care-giver.
• Your child has the legal right to leave home and sign a lease, and other legally-binding contracts.

Without guardianship, you may not have control over major decisions of the special needs adult’s daily life, such as:

• Medical issues
• Educational issues
• Living arrangements
• Financial decisions
• Vocational/Adult Services
• Self-care and Safety

In fact, the authority to make decisions on behalf of a special needs adult might be determined by the court unless a legal guardian has been previously appointed.

Establishing a guardianship is therefore essential for you to continue caring for your special needs loved one.

The Process

• Online instruction and mandatory signed certificates of Unlicensed Fiduciary and Guardianship training.
• Completion of Report of Medical Examiner, which confirms that a legal guardian is necessary.
• Preparation of all necessary documents to self-petition for guardianship with the Superior Court.
• Home interview conducted by a court-appointed investigator
• Meeting with a court-appointed attorney, who will represent the ward at the hearing.
• Hearing before a judge.
• Review of annual reporting requirements.