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Will your special needs child need a guardian after age 18?

As a parent, you may consider appointing a guardian in your estate plan in case your children still need care at the time of your death. On the other hand, if you have a special needs child, you may wonder whether placing that child under guardianship after he or she turns 18 could work in his or her best interests. If the circumstances warrant such an appointment, you may have the ability to move through the proper legal channels to gain the role of guardian.

Because naming a guardian for someone who has reached the age of adulthood has serious connotations, you may want to ensure that taking this route works in the best interest of your child. If he or she has a mental disability that makes it impossible for him or her to make decisions or understand the decisions, naming a guardian may prove helpful.

Guardianship roles

Two types of guardianship roles exist. With the guardianship of a person, the appointed guardian makes personal decisions for the ward, including those relating to health care, living arrangements, daily tasks and other choices that may need made in regard to the person's life. When it comes to guardianship of the property, the guardian makes decisions that relate to the person's finances, including public benefits and property.

Guardian candidates

If you as the parent can no longer fill the role as guardian of your adult child, the next best candidate often lies within the family. If another adult sibling without special needs feels up to the task, he or she may have the ability to gain court appointment. If no siblings can take on the role, another adult family member or close friend could potentially step in. In situations in which no suitable candidates come forward, the court may appoint a professional guardian.

Guardian appointment

Appointing a guardian for an adult child involves a complex legal proceeding. As the candidate, you must file a petition with the court, which details information regarding your relationship with the potential ward, the person's disability and reasons why you should gain appointment. A hearing must then take place in order for the judge to approve or deny the petition for guardianship.

If you hope to retain guardianship over your special needs child when he or she turns 18, understanding the legal proceedings such an endeavor entails may prove beneficial. Because you may face difficulties during the process, you may want to discuss your interests and concerns with an experienced New Jersey attorney.

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