One of the challenges parents often face when raising a special needs child is when that child is turning 18. This milestone is a celebration but also brings stress and worry. Passing into adulthood means some of the doctors, physicians, or specialists will now tell you to obtain a guardianship as they will no longer be able to discuss the child’s medical care with you. Suddenly you have gone from the sole caregiver dealing with the doctors daily, to sitting on the sidelines, knowing full well your child cannot care for himself alone.
The Texas Estate Code Section 1103.001 allows a guardianship proceeding to be started no earlier than 180 days prior to a child turning 18, when that child will require a guardianship as an adult. In addition, there may be alternatives to a guardianship available to your child depending on your child’s abilities and disabilities. Some alternatives to explore would be the creation of a Special Needs Trust to manage finances while still allowing the child to qualify for public benefits, or a Supported Decision Making document, which appoints a person to help the child discuss various issues and talk through options, allowing the child to make better informed decisions. There are many alternatives available.
A competent attorney should be able to discuss with you the various alternatives that may meet your child’s needs, offering the greatest amount of independence, while still offering the assistance and protection your child needs.