Having a child who has special needs means that parents always have to think ahead about what might happen in the future. Before the child's 18th birthday, the parents make all the decisions for them, but once they reach that life milestone, they are suddenly responsible for their own decisions.
Trying to plan for the time your child becomes an adult requires important decision-making skills. One of the important things to determine is whether you need to pursue a guardianship for the child. This decision is important because it outlines your next steps.
Does your child need a guardianship?
If your child can make decisions on their own in any capacity, including with help from you, a guardianship might not be the best option. The guardianship takes away their independence because the decision-making powers shift from them to the person who is named as their guardian. If there is a chance that your child could make decisions on their own, it might be best to give them a chance to do that.
There are situations that require a guardianship, but some special needs adults can thrive by using other options that are available. This is why a thorough evaluation of the situation is necessary.
What other options are there?
There are assisted and supported living options that can help individuals who need some extra help but not enough to need a guardianship. These programs might be beneficial to new adults who need things like transportation and help getting other services they need.
You may still be able to help your child without having to be named as guardian. Powers of attorney designation for health care and finances may be beneficial because you could have control over those areas without taking all their independence from them.
Family members can also offer their support, especially working through how to make decisions in their best interests. It is imperative that anyone who is helping in this capacity isn't doing so in a self-serving manner.
A person who is named as a guardian will have the oversight of the court, and getting the proper guardianship documentation is a lengthy process. The supervision helps to ensure that the guardian isn't taking advantage of the person they're assisting. It's a good idea to monitor anyone who is helping your special needs adult make decisions.