Guardianship for your special needs child really depends on your child’s level of need. If they are very high functioning, they may have the ability to take care of most of their needs as an adult. If this is the case, a guardianship may be taking a little too much control out of their hands. There are other options if your child is capable of making most of their own decisions. If you know your child will need to have you making the decisions for their health and financial concerns when they are an adult, getting guardianship is the right step.
The first question that is on the mind of most parents is: “When do I obtain guardianship?”
In Indiana, the answer to that is at age 18. Now, I occasionally run across a parent that hasn’t done this and the child is now older, that’s ok, it’s not too late, we can still get a guardianship if it’s necessary.
So, how soon should parents usually prepare?
In my practice, I tell my clients to meet with me a couple of months before their child turns 18. The goal is to gather all the necessary paperwork so that we can submit a complete package to the court. Usually, the one that takes the most time is the Physician’s Statement. I give my clients a form to take to their doctor that has all the required information and explains any statutory language so that they can correctly complete the document. Once that is completed, the other necessary forms and required signatures are usually fairly quick. So, depending on how long it takes for your doctor to work, you may consider starting a little bit earlier. The main issue is that the Guardianship needs to be approved by the court after your child turns eighteen. The problem with doing a Guardianship prior to age eighteen is that it will be a Guardianship of a minor which will terminate automatically on the child turning eighteen.
The second question is, “How much is this going to cost?”
Many families are dealing with ongoing issues and medical expenses, this extra expense can be prohibitive. The difficulty is that it’s vitally important in many situations. Costs will vary depending on the attorney and your particular situation. At CCSK Law, we work to be as efficient and thorough as possible in an effort to help keep costs under control. With us, most guardianships for special needs children will cost $1,500.00 for the attorney’s fees. The most common situation where this cost increases is if you have parents that are separated and they want to fight over who gets to be the guardian. This doesn’t happen often. Most of the time one of the separated parents is the primary caregiver and everyone is in agreement that they should be the guardian so the normal fee would apply.
A final question that comes up is, “Can we have a co-guardianship?”
Many times parents whether married or separated want to share guardianship. This is entirely up to you, however, I caution against it. When you have a co-guardian setup, then you will both have to be available for each and every decision. You will both have to sign every check and file every document together with the court. It can be done, it’s just that sometimes it can feel inconvenient.
How do I get started with a Guardianship for my Special Needs Child?
If you have any questions please call Kurt Kazmierczak at 219-230-3600 for a no-cost initial consultation.