Parents who have children with disabilities often have to balance the need to ensure the child’s needs are adequately met with the desire to have the child live as independent a life as possible. A child who is unable to care for him or herself will likely need a conservatorship or adult guardianship so a competent adult will be there to make decisions for the child once the child reaches adulthood. However, other children may not need a conservator and may be able to maintain an independent life without much supervision. There is no hard and fast way to determine whether a conservatorship or some other form of decision making transfers, such as special needs trusts are appropriate, but there are a few factors you can look at to make an evaluation.
- Financial Abilities: Does the child understand money, finances and the need to pay bills and taxes? A child who is unable to meet financial needs or take care of financial obligations will probably need at least a limited conservatorship.
- Medical Abilities: Does the child understand his or her own medical conditions? Can he recognize when he needs medical assistance and seek the appropriate care? Someone who cannot adequately make these determinations will likely need a conservator.
- Living Decisions: A child must be able to make a range of day-to-day decisions on a range of topics, from household maintenance to questions of personal safety. An inability to, for example, adequately care for his or her own hygiene may require someone to supervise and guide the ward on a daily or semi-daily basis.