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What to know about guardianship of a special needs adult

On Behalf of | Mar 29, 2024 | Uncategorized |

Most people start living independently when they turn 18 or finish their secondary education. However, not everyone is capable of taking care of themselves without ongoing support from others. Adults with special needs may require assistance with tasks necessary for daily life. They may not be able to obtain gainful employment, making them financially dependent on others as well. They are particularly vulnerable to abuse.

Family members and others concerned about the well-being of an adult with special needs can potentially pursue a guardianship by filing paperwork with the Florida courts. How do adult guardianships function in Florida?

Guardianship requires court intervention

Some people assume that adult guardianship could be automatic in their circumstances. Someone who is the legal or biological parent of a child with significant medical challenges may believe that because the state is already aware of the child’s disability, their parental authority should automatically roll over into an adult guardianship due to those concerns.

However, that is not how adult guardianships work. Someone concerned about the well-being of an adult with special needs must take the matter to court. They need evidence that someone cannot safely and consistently meet their own needs. The courts generally have to agree that a guardianship would be in someone’s best interest to give an adult authority over another person who is legally an adult.

Guardianship can be complete or limited

Not every adult who struggles with independent living requires someone else to manage every aspect of their lives. Often, it is possible for those who love someone with special needs to pursue a limited guardianship that only allocates certain types of authority and responsibility to the guardian.

This approach can help empower someone with a disabling medical condition by motivating them to be as independent as possible. The person in need of support may be more likely to agree to a voluntary guardianship if they don’t face the total loss of personal authority. With that said, oftentimes, circumstances require guardianship where the guardian has authority over someone’s finances and medical decisions and responsibility to meet all of their day-to-day needs. Guardianship can strain relationships at least temporarily and can lead to some difficult conversations among family members.

Despite the complications and potential for conflict involved, the pursuit of a guardianship can be beneficial for an adult with special needs. Learning more about how Florida helps protect those who are incapable of fully independent living may benefit those concerned about someone with disabling medical issues.