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Life Planning

Guardianship for Your Young Adult Child with Disabilities

February 29, 2012  

The following is a brief discussion of guardianship as it applies to your young adult child with disabilities during his or her transition to young adulthood. This information is provided to the parent and discusses what is involved when petitioning for guardianship, what rights an individual young adult child with disabilities would be asked to give up if you as parent or guardian adult gain guardianship, the process of petitioning the court, and the responsibilities of the guardian.

Warning! These materials are for general information only and do not constitute legal advice. This guide is not a replacement for a good attorney who has a background in guardianship in your local city and state.

This guide applies to adults (children with disabilities as they turn 18 years of age) and is not intended to encompass custody and guardianship issues for minors. The purpose of this guide is to provide information for people with disabilities who are 17 to 59 years of age and their parents and guardians, and does not necessarily offer information specifically for other groups.

Important! There is much to consider before creating a guardianship.

A person with a disability may be able to make sound decisions if presented with training, education and informed choices. The ability to make one's own choices allows the person to learn, grow and keep one's self-esteem.

On the other hand the young adult child may need an advocate to avoid exploitation or abuse.

New Horizons Un-Limited hopes that the options presented in this guide will help you to make informed decisions about guardianship.

This guide offers some basic information on what you need to know. For more information, check out our guardianship pages at:

New Horizons Un-Limited assumes no responsibility in guaranteeing the services, programs or conditions as described. If you are interested in a resource listed below, call or contact the resource to verify the current situation. Evaluate information and make your own decisions when using this guide.
Following is a quick outline of this guide, click on the link to go directly to the section of your choice.

What is Guardianship?

The Laws for Guardianship

There is no federal law concerning Guardianship. Guardianship is governed by state law and each of the states of the United States has different laws governing guardianship.




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Factors to Consider Regarding Guardianship

If you are considering guardianship for your special needs son or daughter there are several factors to take into consideration:

How to Petition for Guardianship

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Guardiansip Responsibilities

Financial Assistance for Guardianship Legal Fees

You may be eligible for reduced fee or pro bono legal assistance.

Contact your school system, children’s hospital, legal aid society, bar association, or aging coalition for information on guardianship financial assistance for legal fees.

If you cannot afford an attorney's legal services, you should still obtain a consultation with an attorney familiar with guardianship.  It is possible that an attorney can refer you to a legal aid society or non-profit foundation that can assist you in filing guardianship papers at a nominal costs.


Alternatives to guardianship:

Alternatives to guardianship include:

For more information:

  • What Are The Usage with Disabled Individuals by Laws.com.
  • Washington State Department of Social and Health Services: Guardianship Basics - Frequently Asked Questions
  • Guardianship from Traumatic Brain Injury
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    These materials are for general information only and do not constitute legal advice.

    If you have questions or ideas, information and solutions that you would like to share with us, contact us by e-mail at: horizons@new-horizons.org or to use our NHU E-Mail Form or NHU Community Forum, click the links below.

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    [Updated February 29, 2012]
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