Any child may bring joy and heartache to a parent, and yours is no exception. Your child is unique, and you have watched him or her grow and develop over the years. You may have expected that at this point, with your child on the cusp of adulthood, you would be ready to release him or her into the world. However, things have not worked out that way.
Whether your child's disabilities became apparent soon after birth or your child was the victim of a tragic accident or illness, you know that he or she will rely on your assistance perhaps for the rest of your life. As your child turns 18, you have some important decisions to make.
Why does my child need a guardian?
By law, when a child turns 18, that child is a legal adult responsible for his or her own financial and personal affairs. A legal adult can make decisions about getting a job, making major purchases, getting married and dealing with health care issues without the permission or interference of parents or other adults. Of course, if your child does not have the physical or mental capacity to make reasonable choices in these and other areas, you may feel compelled to jump in and help out.
Without permission from the New York courts, financial institutions, medical facilities and other entities will not recognize your authority to speak on behalf of your child once he or she has reached 18. In such cases, many parents seek information about guardianship for their children. Through this legal process, you become the guardian, and your child is your ward. The court will determine how much authority you will have over your ward's affairs, allowing your child to have as much independence as possible.
What will your duties be?
Guardianship may not be much different from the parenting you have been doing. However, you will only have legal control of those rights the court delegates to you. Among the common duties you may have as your child's guardian, your responsibilities may include any of the following:
- Protecting and investing your child's assets
- Keeping records of your child's financial transactions
- Seeking the most advantageous medical services for your child
- Providing any other services your child may require
You may also have the latitude to assist your ward in making any decisions that will affect his or her well-being. Guardianship is tailored to meet the needs of the ward, and the court will examine your case thoroughly before making a ruling. Additionally, periodically, the court may request a report on your ward's well-being and whether it is necessary to adjust your guardianship duties.
Throughout the entire process, you have the right to legal counsel to assist you in meeting your goals. This may be especially important if you anticipate the proceedings will be adversarial.