Your special needs child has turned 18. What do we do now?

With a little foresight and planning prior to the day that your special needs child comes of age, you can ensure that they will have the guidance they need.  Determining how much support your child will need is the first step.  The following options will help you decide which type of authority you should ask the court for.

Parents of children with disabilities worry about their happiness and their ability to live as independently as they can.  While making the appropriate financial and medical decisions for some special needs adults is entirely possible, no matter the severity of their disability it may be important to ensure that you have the ability to guide them along the way after they turn 18 years old.  Once your special needs child is of age, they are the only ones legally authorized to make major decisions for themselves.

special needs guardianship

When your special needs child turns 18, you can no long make medical decisions for them. They are the only ones legally authorized to make these major decisions.

Having legal guardianship is helpful when dealing with the professionals in our child’s life.  They have no legal obligation once your child is 18 to include you in important health care decision-making or give you any details of your child’s condition or care.  It is best to have legal guardianship before you will actually need it.  You don’t want to have to deal with this process when you are forced to make emergency financial or medical decisions for your adult child.


With guardianship you (as the guardian) are given full or partial decision-making power for your adult child (as the ward) in order for you to continue to protect them as you have done prior to them becoming an adult. As a guardian, you will guide them in becoming as independent and self-reliant as possible.  Your particular authority will be detailed by the court and will specify what it covers – medical and financial decisions, housing as well as the permission to marry.

Your child will have a say in the guardianship process, with the court asking who they would like to serve as guardian and whether or not it serves your child’s interest to have one at all.

Once a guardianship is granted, you will be directed to encourage your adult child to live as independently as possible.  But you will have the authority to give medical consent and other important decisions.  You will also be required to file a report each year to keep the court abreast of your adult child’s status.

Mental Health Professional playing with Down Syndrome woman at School

Ensure Your Child's Future

Junker Law, PLLC works every day with families like yours to execute guardianship provisions and the other options available to those with special needs.

It is never too soon to call and find out about the options available once your child becomes an adult needing continued support. Junker Law, PLLC can also help you with other supportive tools and documents that may be needed such as a will and special needs trust.

special needs law