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Deciding whether guardianship is the right choice for a loved one with special needs is a complex and sensitive matter that requires careful consideration of various factors. Guardianship is a legal arrangement in which one person is appointed to make decisions on behalf of another who is deemed incapable of managing their own affairs due to physical or mental disabilities. Here, we will explore the advantages and disadvantages of guardianship and alternative options to help you make an informed decision.

Is Guardianship the Right Choice for My Loved One with Special Needs?

Guardianship can provide several benefits for individuals with special needs. It can ensure that their financial, medical, and personal affairs are managed responsibly. This can be particularly important if the person lacks the capacity to make decisions that are in their best interest. Guardianship can offer a sense of security for both the individual and their family, as it establishes a legal framework for decision-making and protection from potential exploitation or harm. Furthermore, guardianship can facilitate access to government benefits and services, as legal guardians are often required to make applications on behalf of their wards.

On the other hand, there are some significant drawbacks to guardianship. It can limit the autonomy and self-determination of the individual with special needs, which may not be in their best interest. Guardianship can be perceived as paternalistic and restrictive. It may inadvertently undermine the individual’s self-esteem and sense of control over their own life. 

Moreover, the process of establishing guardianship can be emotionally taxing and costly, involving court proceedings and ongoing legal responsibilities. It is important to carefully consider whether guardianship is genuinely necessary or if there are alternative options that can empower the individual while still ensuring their well-being.

One alternative to full guardianship is a durable power of attorney, which allows individuals to appoint someone they trust to make financial and legal decisions on their behalf without the need for a formal guardianship arrangement. This option offers a balance between autonomy and protection, as the individual can choose the extent of decision-making authority they want to delegate. A power of attorney, however, must be put in place while the principal still retains legal compacity.

In deciding whether guardianship is the right choice for a loved one with special needs, it is crucial to consider the individual’s unique circumstances, preferences, and capabilities. Guardianship can provide security and protection, but can be a big limit on the person’s autonomy. Also, there may be less restrictive alternatives, such as a durable power of attorney, that would also avoid the costly and complex court procedures necessary in the establishment of a guardianship. The key is to find that balance that ensures the individual’s well-being and dignity while respecting their right to make choices about their life to the fullest extent possible.

Estate Planning Attorney

For more information on guardianships and alternatives to guardianships, talk to the team at Verras Law. Contact Verras Law today.