Do you have a disabled child who is approaching the age of 18? Once your child turns 18, you likely will experience significant legal obstacles if you desire to continue making decisions on behalf of your child and/or desire to have access to that child’s medical information or finances. If your child needs medical attention, financial assistance, and needs you to act or intervene on his/her behalf, you will need to have legal authority to do so. If your child is vulnerable, you surely want to protect your child. As a parent these concerns are very real.
Becoming the Guardian and or Conservator for an incapacitated adult (Proposed Ward) is a very precise and complex legal process, even that individual is your child. The Proposed Ward’s physical well-being and safety must be your first goal. The Proposed Ward’s mental status and ability to function in society must be the lens through which you seek this access and authority. To obtain the authority to continue making these decisions on behalf of the Proposed Ward, this process must be pursued in the Probate Court of the County where the Proposed Ward resides.
What is the Goal?
When pursuing this authority, your goals need to align directly with the statutory duties of Guardians and Conservators under the law. As Guardian, you will have the rights and powers reasonably necessary to provide adequately for Proposed Ward’s support, care, education, health, and welfare. This mimics how the parent of a minor functions, with both the authority and the responsibility of making decisions for the minor. You will be called upon to make decisions which are in Proposed Ward’s best interest even if he/she is resistant. All of these variables must be considered to produce the best outcome. As Guardian, if you feel like the Proposed Ward cannot live on his/her own, you will be entitled to physical custody of Proposed Ward and can establish his/her place of residence, (i.e. independent living, group housing, some kind of facility or assisted living).
It also must be clear to the Court, from your stated goals, that you are 100% capable of and willing to take reasonable care of Proposed Ward’s personal property, arrange for the care, education, health, and welfare of the Proposed Ward, considering his/her needs and available resources. Those are the statutory duties of a Guardian. If you are the parents of a disabled child, you have clearly done this for many years.
There are quite a few legal “hoops to jump through” to be legally granted this authority and after it is granted, you have continual obligations to the Court. Within 60 days after your appointment and within 60-days after each anniversary date of your appointment, you will be required to file a personal Status Report with the Court. That report will need to address a description of the Proposed Ward’s general condition, changes since the last report, and needs, all addresses/locations of Proposed Ward during the reporting period and the living arrangements of Proposed Ward at all of these locations, a description of the amount and expenditure of any funds that were received by you on behalf of Proposed Ward, and any recommendations to the Court for any alteration in the Guardianship/Conservatorship order(if any). If the Ward has been hospitalized, that must be reported as well.
If you are also granted the authority to manage the property and financial affairs of the Proposed Ward, as Conservator, you will be required to file “Returns” with the Court. You may be required by the Court to post bond as required by law and as set by the Court and at the Court’s discretion. Within 60-days of appointment, you will have to file with the Court an inventory of the Proposed Ward’s property and a plan for managing the property, as required by law.
Have Additional Questions? Contact our Guardianship Lawyers
As a parent, your goals and objectives align directly with what Guardians and Conservators are required to do. The Court will see that you understand and can fulfill those duties and grant you the authority you need to continue to care for your disabled adult child. This is not a legal process you should pursue without an attorney to help you who knows the process and the steps to take, however. An attorney’s involvement will prevent delay and legal hurdles. If you have additional questions Guardians and Conservators, please reach out to Brian M. Douglas & Associates’ probate team. You can call (770) 933-9009 or use our online contact page.