As Los Angeles parents and caretakers of children with autism or other cognitive disabilities can attest, raising such a child is a unique joy. When the child turns 18, however, they become legally responsible for their own welfare and decisions in life — and not every individual with special needs is capable of living independently and making their own decisions. That’s why, especially as their 18th birthday draws near, parents of children with special needs should consider petitioning for legal guardianship so that they can continue to take care of their child’s affairs after the child reaches adulthood.
In a guardianship, the guardian has decision-making authority to look after their ward’s medical, legal, educational and financial matters as well as any property, investments and other assets. A guardian doesn’t have to be a parent. In fact, a backup guardian should be named in a parent’s will so that someone is already selected to care for the child with special needs in case the parent dies or is incapacitated. In cases like these, the probate court is the one that makes the official appointment of the guardian.
Some people with cognitive impairment can make their own good decisions, and for individuals like these, no guardianship is needed. For others who are living independently, however, their decisions may be unduly swayed by a relative, friend, neighbor or medical caretaker who may trick them into making choices that aren’t in their own best interest. If your loved one is susceptible to that kind of influence, they could easily be taken advantage of by someone with selfish intentions. In situations like these, you may need to fight to have guardianship over your loved one to protect them from their abuser.
If you are facing guardianship issues in California, it’s vital you speak to an experienced Los Angeles attorney who can help your family look into all the options and hopefully choose a path that is best suited for your loved one with special needs.