Massachusetts parents who have special needs children typically reach a point where that child will reach the age of majority. At that point, parents can lose the right to make decisions on their behalf. Many of those parents look into the possibility of obtaining guardianships in order to continue caring for their children.
Guardianships can be either full or limited, depending on the needs of the individual. The issue of capacity of the disabled person takes center stage in any such proceeding. Not surprisingly, courts are often careful to appoint a guardian since the ability to make decisions for oneself are taken away when an individual is appointed. A full guardianship puts all of the decision-making authority in the hands of the guardian. By contrast, a limited guardianship leaves some of that authority with the person needing assistance.
A recent study conducted by several disability advocates discovered that most families are advised to petition for a full guardianship when the time comes. Parents in the study who consulted school officials received the advice to petition for full guardianship 84 percent of the time. Adult service providers discussed this course of action slightly less often, at 79 percent.
Massachusetts parents who are facing this decision will want to look at every aspect of guardianships before making their final choice. The advice of mental health and medical professionals is a large part of the equation. However, understanding what it will mean legally to be a child's guardian is also necessary. Once all of the information has been explained and processed, navigating the court system will most likely also require some assistance in order to ensure that everything is not only done properly during the appointment process, but from that day forward as well.
Source: disabilityscoop.com, "Guardianship Often Recommended Over Alternatives", Shaun Heasley, June 16, 2015