If your child can make decisions in some areas but not others, or just needs some support in making decisions, there are different options you can consider!
The important thing is to think carefully about your child's abilities, and to try to give them as much independence as possible.
The range of guardianship options
In Massachusetts, guardianship doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing decision.
If your family member needs help in some areas of life but not others, there are options that let you help with just the parts they need.
Terms you might hear often:
Guardianship - this means that another person (the guardian) is appointed to make decisions on behalf of the person with a disability. These can include decisions about all aspects of their life.
Conservatorship - this means that another person (the conservator) is appointed just to manage money for the person with a disability.
Below is a chart of the range of guardianship options:
When to start the process
When should I start thinking about guardianship?
It is important to start this process before your child turns 18, the legal age of adulthood.
The guardianship process can be time-consuming and complex. Try to start learning and thinking about this decision at least one year in advance.
You must prepare and file the paperwork within clear time windows. There are several key deadlines. (We'll go over this! Keep reading!)
If you are seeking guardianship, allow about 4 to 6 months total from the time you have all of your paperwork ready until the hearing process is complete. Plan for several visits to the probate court: at least 2 trips if all paperwork is completed correctly, and more if there are problems.
Source: Federation for Children with Special Needs