Having children brings little celebrations that parents get to look forward to. However, for parents of special needs children, some milestones can be fraught with fear and uncertainty. One such milestone is when the child reaches the age of majority. In this article, we will discuss some issues a parent should consider as their special needs child reaches the age of majority.
What Is The Age Of the Majority?
The age of majority is the age that the government deems a person capable of understanding the consequences of their actions. In other words, legal adulthood. In every state in the United States of America, the age of majority is 18.
What Is The Problem With Special Needs Children Reach The Age Of Majority?
When someone reaches the age of majority, there is an assumption that they have the cognitive ability to be treated and act like an adult. Although the person may be immature or not finish growing, under the letter of the law, the person is an adult and will be treated as such and is expected to be able to handle adult responsibilities. A person with special needs, however, may never develop the cognitive or physical ability to handle adult responsibility or situations. Even though the law might recognize them as fully formed adults, they lack the awareness to know what that means.
What Considerations Do Parents Have To Make For A Special Needs Child?
Although this is not a comprehensive list, and many considerations may be unique to each situation, below is a list of general considerations for a family to look into.
- Is the child capable of doing basic activities such as getting dress, eating on their own, personal hygiene?
- Can they communicate in a manner that others will understand?
- Are they employable?
- Do they require constant supervision or care?
- Are they vulnerable to scammers or abusers?
- Do they understand cause and effect relationship?
How To Protect A Special Needs Child Into Adulthood
There are many legal instruments set up to protect individuals with special needs. The four most common legal instruments are as follows:
- Powers Of Attorney
- Special Needs Guardianship
- Petition For Conservatorship
- Special Needs Trusts
What Is A Power Of Attorney?
Power of attorney gives one party the right to make decisions on behalf of another individual. Power of attorneys are usually limited in scope and time and may be revoked by the individual.
Special Needs Guardianship
A special needs guardian is someone who the court legally appoints to make decisions on behalf of the special needs person. An example is that the court might appoint the parent of a special needs person to continue to make decisions on their behalf as if they were still a child under the age of 18.
Conservatorship is the process in which the court determines a person does not have the cognitive ability to make decisions on their own. Then, the court appoints a person to oversee the estate of the person.
Special Needs Trust
Special needs trusts are trusts created to care for the financial needs of the individual while allowing them to continue to receive government benefits.
If you have a special needs child who is about to reach the age of majority in the State of Florida, contact Thompson Law for a consultation. We can go over your rights and ensure that your loved one will be cared for and protected into adulthood.