Competency Consultation Group
Top 10 Things to Know About Guardianship
1. As a guardian, you can continue to protect your child’s interests beyond age 18.
2. The guardian does not get involved in minor daily choices, but only when a major life decision needs to be made.
3. Once your child turns 18, a physician might not provide care, if the physician feels that your child does not understand the risks and benefits of the procedure, and therefore cannot give “informed consent”.
4. Once your child turns 18, medical providers are not permitted to share medical information, due to provisions of HIPAA (a law guaranteeing privacy of medical information), unless you are the guardian.
5. While Durable Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy can be helpful, both of these instruments presume that your child is competent to make these assignments. They can also be revoked by the individual at any time.
6. As your child’s guardian, you have input into goal-setting at your child’s IEP or ISP. You have a strong voice in approving vocational training and advocating for other services or aspects of the educational program.
7. As guardian, you can be actively involved in planning and approving adult services and management of adult needs as formulated in the ISP.
8. Many individuals with Intellectual Disabilities are at risk of manipulation, e.g. being pressured into making agreements that are not in their best interests. As guardian, you are the person who signs all contracts, so your son or daughter is protected.
9. To ensure that there is no lapse in your legal role, it is best to begin the process of seeking guardianship early in the 17th year:
- Verify that recent psychological testing has been done to help confirm the level of Intellectual Disability.
- Contact a team to perform a competency evaluation and write the Clinical Team Report.
- Contact an attorney who specializes in disability law and is familiar with the process of obtaining guardianship.
10. As the guardian, you are protecting your child’s rights and interests, and allowing him/her the maximum level of choice and independence that he/she is capable of, while minimizing risks of exploitation and harm.