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Guardianship for Special Needs Children

Guardianship for Special Needs Children

My Special Needs Child will soon be an Adult… Do I need a Guardianship to assist him or her?

The challenges for a family with a child who has special needs never stops, education, accommodations, prejudice, additional expenses, preexisting conditions, etc.

That is also true when the child reaches legal adulthood at age 19 in Alabama. Once your child reaches 19 their medical providers may no longer speak to you about your child’s condition.

As your child seeks his or her independence, which you want to provide, some of those that he/she will encounter in this world can be dangerous.

There are unscrupulous do-gooders out in the world that see your child as additional income. These folks will attempt to entice children with promises of money or independence with questionable rules:

What???… ‘You do not get to spend your money how you wish? If you were Living with me, you would get to do that.’ Additionally, romantic relationships open another set of potential pitfalls: ‘Come live with me. Let’s get married and live with my parents.’ Some see that $750 or so per month as free money to them.

Many of these problems can be prevented with Guardianship. Sometimes Conservatorship is also needed to manage your child’s money.

However, if you are the payee of any Social Security payments, the conservatorship is not necessary.


My Special Needs Child will be receiving an inheritance… will that cause my child problems?

Example… if you know or think that the grandparents will be leaving assets to your child. You should caution the Grandparents against leaving anything directly to the child, as those gifts may cause your child to lose his or her government benefits on which they rely for health and well fare. See Supplemental Needs Trust.

A well thought our plan for your child that provides for a Supplemental Needs Trust is advised in a situation where your child is receiving governmental benefits. A gift or inheritance could cause your child to lose the very benefits he or she needs to live.


How do I Set up a Guardianship for my Child?

Guardianship involves petitioning the probate court (in Alabama). The petition sets out that your child is not capable of making health care decisions and has a statement from the child’s doctor that confirms this fact.

One parent, sometimes both, will be the petitioner and the other parent agrees by signing the petition or a waiver. The waiver states the parent agrees the child needs a guardian.

After the petition is filed the probate judge appoints a Guardian ad Litem for the child. The Guardian Ad Litem (GAL)is typically an attorney, the GAL contacts the family possibly the doctor, and meets with the child. After this investigation, the Guardian Ad Litem makes a recommendation to the court as to whether your child can make his or her own decisions without your input or knowledge.

Taking all this into consideration, we suggest that it is generally better to file for guardianship just before the child’s 19th birthday (18th in many states).

Do I Need Estate Planning?

The State of Alabama provides an estate plan for everyone. It is a one size, and it fits everyone. Fits everyone? Not really.

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204 Main Street Suite 128 Trussville AL

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