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Pondering guardianship when your special needs child turns 18

If you're a parent, planning for your child's future is paramount. Having your estate in order to allocate assets and establish guardianship in your absence is a prudent measure, but some parents have unique situations to consider.

If you have a special needs child that's nearing the age of 18, you may need to look into guardianship to assist with some facets of adulthood. Once your child is 18, they'll have the legal right to make decisions regarding their health and finances. If they are physically or mentally incapacitated, it could be in their best interests for another party to be tasked with those responsibilities.

It's important to note that a guardianship for a mentally or physically disabled person is designed to foster independence. The idea is that a guardian takes on only the tasks that the ward is unable to perform, to give them a more independent life. The court can grant the following types of powers to a guardian:

  • Making medical decisions for your child.
  • Deciding on financial matters.
  • Keeping the court updated on your child's living, medical, and financial situations.

Parents don't always need to assume the role of guardianship. In Massachusetts, the court will allow any qualified person over the age of 18 to become a guardian, although parents usually receive priority. A thorough criminal background check is required, however, for the safety of the ward. A ward may also have more than one guardian.

The decision to file for guardianship for your special needs child is a subjective one. You'll want to consider their limitations, as well as how they can best achieve normalcy in their life. If you believe guardianship is the best option for your child, you'll want to file well in advance of their 18th birthday. This measure ensures that everything is in place at legal emancipation.

You want the best for your special needs child. A guardianship can sometimes provide a helping hand to ease them into adulthood.

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The Law Offices of Kimberly Butler Rainen
21 Central Street
Andover, MA 01810

Phone: 978-494-6730
Phone: 978-409-1928
Fax: 978-849-8212
Map & Directions

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We are in a 1700s Colonial located on the intersection between Brook Street, Central Street and Essex Street in historic downtown Andover, Massachusetts. The parking lot entrance is located on Brook Street, which is a one-way. From Central, turn down Essex Street. Before reaching the railroad tracks, when you see the St. Augustine Church on your right, take a sharp left turn on to Brook Street, which will turn you back toward Central Street. As you ascend the hill back toward Central Street, you will see large stone pillars on either side of the entrance to our parking lot. We have assigned parking spaces numbered 7 and 10.

From the parking lot, you may take the stairs located on the rear, left-side of the building up to the garden area, where the foyer entrance to our office is located. You can also follow the sidewalk on Brook Street up to Central Street, walk along Central Street past the main house entrance (with a wrought iron gate across the walk way) to an opening in the wrought iron fence, in to the garden area where the foyer entrance to our office is located.