Do you have a child with disabilities who is about to turn 18? If so, it may be in your child’s best interest for you to establish guardianship and conservatorship before an emergency occurs. When your child is 18 years old they will be treated as an adult in the eyes of the law. For example, if your 18-year old child with special needs steps on a rusty nail and refuses to have a tetanus shot, the hospital cannot legally give it to him. The hospital has to respect the wishes of your child, even though he is incompetent of making the right, healthy decision. However, if guardianship is established, then the guardian will have a say over the 18-year old’s medical care.
In order to become a guardian or conservator, a person must be a resident of the United States, over the age of 18, sound of mind, competent, and must not have been convicted of a felony. The guardian will be responsible for deciding where the special needs individual will live, and will make provisions for the person’s care, comfort, and maintenance, including medical and health care decisions. The conservator will be responsible for managing and protecting the individual’s property, and reporting to the court periodically about the assets, recipients, and disbursements of said property.
It will generally take from one to three months for guardianship or conservatorship to be legally established through Probate court but it can take longer. It is very important that these positions be taken care of, so that the child can get the best care available to them, and can have their assets properly protected.