Before Child with Special Needs Turns 18 – Massachusetts

By Harry S. Margolis

On top of everything else parents of children with special needs have on their plates need to think about, they need to plan for when their child turns 18.  With that birthday, the parents are no longer their child’s natural guardian and me need to seek court ordered guardianship.  The child (or now adult) may now become eligible for public benefits based on his own financial status.

Here are some of the questions parents need to consider:

Whether to Seek Guardianship

Like any other adult, individuals with special needs become independent at age 18, able to make financial, legal, health care and education choices themselves.  For some children with special needs, this may be fine.  But for many others it’s vital that the parents maintain supervision and the ability to communicate with schools, medical providers and others on behalf of their child.

This can be accomplished in two ways.  The simpler and less costly method is for the child upon turning 18 to execute a health care proxy and durable power of attorney delegating her rights to her parents.  This will only work if the child has legal capacity to do so and is cooperative. The parents also need

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