As a young adult with special needs approaches age 18, his or her parents will need to decide whether to pursue a legal Guardianship with the Virginia courts for the right to manage the child’s personal and medical affairs.
If a Guardianship is ultimately granted, the child will lose his or her personal autonomy and the ability to make independent decisions for themselves. For the majority of adults with special needs, this is a non-issue, as they depend on their parents to oversee every aspect of their day-to-day affairs and personal well-being.
However, there are situations when a young adult with special needs is high-functioning and capable of living a semi-independent life. In such cases, the parents will need to evaluate whether a legal guardianship is appropriate. Parents should consider the following:
To determine if you should pursue a legal Guardianship for your child once he or she turns 18, answer “yes” or “no” to the following questions:
- Can the child communicate his or her needs clearly and accurately to others?
- Does the child have the ability to live independently, including the ability to perform chores, safely operate household appliances, and follow a schedule?
- Could the child independently make medical decisions regarding his or her care?
- Can the child properly administer his or her medications and does he or she understand dosing?
- Does the child have the capacity to give medical consent?
- Is the child aware of dangers to his or her personal safety?
- Can the child safely prepare meals?
- Does the child have the capacity to enter into a romantic relationship or marriage?
- Can the child independently maintain personal hygiene?
- Does the child have the capacity to safely own weapons?
- Is the child able to drive or does he or she have the ability to learn to drive?
- Does the child understand the consequences of entering into a contract?
- Is the child able to make wise decisions about discretionary purchases?
If you answered “no” to any of the above questions, it’s in your family’s best interest to learn about the steps necessary to file for an legal Guardianship so that you can retain the right to make decisions and manage your child’s affairs once he or she turns 18. Here at the Law Office of Sheri R. Abrams, we focus on Special Needs Planning and helping parents prepare for the future. If you’d like to schedule an appointment to discuss your options for becoming your child’s legal guardian, please contact us at (571) 328-5795 to schedule an appointment.