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Principled Advocacy For Families And Individuals With Disabilities And The Professionals Who Serve Them

Talking to your disabled child about guardianship

| Apr 21, 2021 | Uncategorized

When you have a disabled child, you want to do everything you can to protect them. That can be fairly easy, as you’re the main buffer between them and the rest of the world.

Your ability to be that buffer ends, however, when your child turns 18. At that point, if you want to retain any control over your child’s health and well-being, you may need to consider legal guardianship.

How do you bring up the subject?

For some parents, this isn’t really an issue: Their child’s ability to comprehend the complexities of the law may be limited.

For many parents (and their disabled adult children) the issue is more complex. Their adult child may have a disability that puts them at risk of being financially abused by unsavory types or they may not be able to handle the pressure of keeping up with governmental forms, like those for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. However, they still may have the ability to manage many of their own affairs.

If guardianship is established, it strips your disabled adult child of the right to:

  • Open and manage their own bank accounts
  • Enter into contracts on their own
  • Sign a lease or buy a home
  • Decide on their own medical treatment
  • Write their own will or create a trust

That’s a lot. Seeking guardianship isn’t the right choice for every situation. Even if you think guardianship is the best option for your child, it’s not something that you should spring on them once you’ve already had the paperwork drawn up.

Instead, talk to your adult child about the situation and find out what they think and feel about the idea. Although it may hurt, they may have an opinion about who should be their guardian (and it might not be you), or they may simply need time to consider what you’re asking.

What should you do if you think guardianship is important for your child?

The guardianship process in Illinois can be complicated. Talking things over with an experienced attorney is one way to learn more about the process and explore other options that might be available.