Guardianship for Individuals with Special Needs: 5 Reasons It’s Important When They Turn 18

Last updated on: October 19, 2022

Most parents sit back and watch as their children turn 18 and leave home. But what about parents of children with special needs? If you are the parent of a child with a developmental or intellectual disability, you should really consider setting up guardianship of the person, estate, or both.

Here are five reasons why.

Individuals with Special Needs and Privacy Laws

When your child with special needs turns 18, he or she is considered an adult under the law for all purposes. The reason that this fact is important is that all the rights that you had as a parent—access to medical records, finances, and any other documentation—no longer apply because your child is now a legal adult. For this reason, it is critical for you to become your adult child’s guardian, or to appoint someone else as their guardian. Without access to these types of documents or the ability to make critical decisions for your adult child, you will not be able to ensure that they are getting the help and care that they need.

To make sure that there is no lapse in your ability to care for your adult child, you need to speak to a knowledgeable Texas guardianship attorney. They will help you to prepare for your child’s 18th birthday.

Individuals with Special Needs and Criminal Justice

In Texas, when someone turns 17, they are considered an adult under the criminal justice system. This goes for people with developmental and physical disabilities as well. While you cannot keep your adult child from breaking the law, you can protect them in the event that they need legal representation. As your adult child’s guardian, you can become an advocate for your child and make sure that they have legal representation, whether you hire an attorney privately or through the criminal appointment list in your respective court.

Everyone deserves representation when they are suspected of a crime. Give your adult child with special needs the protection they deserve.

Avoiding Exploitation

Unfortunately, we live in a world where exploitation of the most vulnerable members of our society is far from rare. Adults with special needs are more likely to fall victim to fraud, physical and emotional abuse, and other forms of exploitation than other adults. With a guardianship in place, you can continue to monitor your adult child’s finances and living situation to protect them from the bad people of the world.

Individuals with Special Needs and Higher Education

At one time, a person with special needs would not have had a chance to go to college. But times are changing. Many colleges and universities now offer programs and housing that are geared toward those with special needs. With a guardianship in place for your child with special needs, you can make sure that your adult child continues to have the support they need as they seek an education.

Continue to Help Your Child with Special Needs Find Programs and Resources

As a guardian to your adult child with special needs, you can also continue to advocate for them by helping them find local programs and resources that will help them live independently.

How Does a Legal Guardianship Work for Individuals With Special Needs?

Guardianship is a legal process that the Texas probate court oversees. Guardianship is used as a means to protect individuals with special needs from abuse, exploitation, neglect, and other difficulties that they may face if they have to make important decisions about their life and finances

If guardianship is requested, you are basically asking the court to take away the legal rights of an incapacitated individual (or the ward). A guardianship will bestow the legal rights to another adult, which is the guardian. 

In Texas, a person is legally incapacitated if they have a health condition that will render them unable to provide basic needs for themselves or unable to care for their financial and physical welfare. Guardianships are often used when a person is or becomes unable to handle their affairs because of a disability. However, the law distinguishes between incapacity and disability. A disability such as paraplegia does not mean that the person is legally incapacitated since paraplegic persons have the capacity to make decisions on their own. 

Incapacitation means that a person can no longer care for themselves or their financial well-being. In situations where a person is partially incapacitated and has the ability to care for themselves but is unable to manage their finances and estate, a guardian may have limited rights. 

It is important to understand your child or loved one’s needs and abilities before you apply for guardianship. Speaking to an experienced special needs guardianship attorney may also be able to help you understand the rights and responsibilities a guardian may have.

Special needs guardianship attorney in Houston

Talk to Me about Guardianship for Individuals with Special Needs

Want to learn more about why you should consider a guardianship for your child with special needs? I would love to talk to you. Get in touch today. Contact a Houston estate planning lawyer from The Law Office of Whitney L. Thompson, PLLC at (281) 214-0173.

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