Turning 18 is usually when people become legal adults. Parents typically lose their authority when a child reaches the age of majority. Most legal adults will retain their independence their entire lifetime. However, there are some adults who require more help than that.
Those who have special needs when they reach the age of 18 may not be ready to live independently. Additionally, older adults dealing with cognitive decline, dementia or other conditions may no longer be able to take care of themselves independently.
If either of these circumstances apply to your loved one, it may be time to look into asking the Montana probate courts for a guardianship. How do you know if your loved one needs a guardian to help them?
Your loved one has a diagnosis with a disabling, possibly permanent, condition
Perhaps you have a child with Down syndrome. Maybe your father recently got diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. When someone you love has a diagnosis with a condition that is serious enough to limit their legal rights because it affects their cognitive ability, a guardianship could be an important tool for your family.
Your loved one has had issues performing necessary tasks
Maybe you wanted to let your child with special needs try living independently after they finished high school. It may have seemed to go well at first, but you’ve since found out that they have failed to pay their bills on time or have made questionable educational and medical decisions for themselves.
You might also have a parent who has been living independently but who now struggles with managing their budget, keeping track of their obligations and otherwise handling the responsibilities of independence.
You worry that your loved one won’t get the care they need
Both older adults struggling with symptoms from aging and children with special needs could make decisions that aren’t in their own best interests. Refusing necessary medical care is a perfect example.
If your aging parents or special needs child won’t agree to care that is necessary for their health and longevity, a guardianship could put you in a position where you can make that decision on their behalf.
Pursuing the guardianship requires presenting the courts with evidence of incapacitation and demonstrating a willingness to manage those responsibilities. The sooner you take action, the easier it will be to develop your case for the necessity of a guardianship.