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Guardianship for an adult child with autism

If you have a child with autism, you'll want to consider his or her future -- especially as he or she becomes an adult. After reaching the age of 18, even young adults with mental health disabilities, like autism, will be legally allowed to make decisions on their own behalf. If you wish to keep caring for your child in the way that you have before he or she became 18, you will need to seek legal guardian status.

Guardianship is court-ordered, and it provides the guardian with the legal authority to make all decisions pertaining to the "incapacitated" person. In the guardianship order, the extent to which guardianship authority extends -- or what areas of life the authority covers -- will be specified by the court.

There are three primary types of guardianship that parents might seek for their autistic child:

  • Limited guardianship: This allows the guardian to decide certain matters in some areas of life -- like medical decisions, for example. This could be a good idea for incapacitated persons who can handle some decisions but others extend beyond their capacity to decide.
  • General guardianship: This provides the guardian with a broad level of control and decision-making power. This could be the best choice for children who are severely autistic and unable to make most decisions for themselves.
  • Conservatorship: This is a type of guardian that is merely focused on the financial aspects of someone's life. The conservator doesn't make personal or medical decisions -- just decisions that relate to finances.

A North Beach estate planning attorney can help you seek guardianship for your special needs child. Whether your child has autism or another kind of serious disability, you may want to speak with an estate planning lawyer to ensure that you and your family are adequately prepared for all possibilities that could come to pass in the future.

Source: Autism Speaks, "Legal Matters to Consider," accessed Aug. 24, 2017

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