As a parent of a young adult child with special needs, it can be daunting to think of the day when your child is considered a legal adult who can make decisions for him/herself regarding where they live, their medical care, their finances, and legal agreements that they may enter into without proper counsel. In situations where the young adult lacks the mental capacity to care for themselves properly, it can be vital for a parent to seek an adult guardianship over their child.
Adult guardianships can be necessary for a variety of reasons, though the most common is the situation of parents needing to be able to continue caring for a disabled child past the age of eighteen.
In Georgia, children are legally recognized as adults once they reach the age of 18. Legally, this means they are responsible for their own living expenses and/or support, financial decisions, and for making their own medical decisions. These legal and financial decisions carry great responsibility and liability to a person’s physical and financial well being if they are not capable of taking care of themselves and making proper decisions for themselves.
For example, should a medical emergency happen, now that the child is considered an adult, he or she would have to give informed consent on proceeding with any inpatient treatment. He or she would also be required to give the medical team permission to even speak with the parents. Another example is in the context of entering into any sort of contract (renting an apartment, leasing or buying a car, or having utilities set up in a home). Once past the age of 18, a person is considered an adult and capable of making such decisions. However, in the case of a physically and/or mentally disabled person, effectively making these decisions can be problematic. Such a person may not always make such determinations with their own best interest in mind simply because they don’t know how to do so.
This is why an adult guardianship may be essential in this scenario. While they cannot be granted until the child has actually turned 18, the process can take several months to complete. It can be in your family’s best interest to go ahead and contact a lawyer and start the process so that the guardianship itself can be confirmed very soon after your child’s 18th birthday.
Depending on the calendar and procedures of your county’s probate court, the process can be lengthy. In most counties, an attorney is appointed by the court to represent the disabled child (referred to as the ward); a medical evaluation by a court-appointed evaluator is performed, and a statutory objection period must be waited out. An experienced attorney can help guide you through each of these steps. They can also assist you in determining whether a simple adult guardianship is all you need, or whether an adult conservatorship is also needed. A guardianship involves giving the guardian authority to make decisions on behalf of the ward; a conservatorship gives the conservator the power to handle the finances and assets of the ward and make financial decisions on their behalf.
If you have a disabled child who is approaching his or her 18th birthday, give us a call today so we can get the guardianship process started for you so there won’t be a time gap between your child becoming a legal adult and you having the authority to continue to care for and make decisions for him or her.
Contact us at (678) 228-8688 or firstname.lastname@example.org
With offices in Alpharetta, Atlanta and Marietta, we provide legal assistance to people throughout Georgia and the Southeast in all matters of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
We are ready to help you, and offer multiple ways to reach us.