Considerations For Parents of Adults with Special Needs

Considerations For Parents of Adults with Special NeedsEvery child brings a special light into the lives of their family, so it stands to reason that their needs would be equally unique. It might be hard to think about, but someday, our children will have to live without us. And although our children will always need us, some will need us more than others. One of the biggest questions for families with special needs children is: “Who will care for my child when I’m gone?” Choosing a guardian for your adult child when you’re no longer able is one of the most important decisions you could make. It’s also not the easiest. To help with the process, this blog will cover some considerations for selecting a legal guardian for your special needs adult child.

Does My Adult Child Need Guardianship?

Once your child reaches adulthood, they may not need a guardian. Many special needs adults are perfectly capable of caring for themselves as long as they have the funds to do so. In these cases, it’s better to utilize a special needs trust where a trustee can ensure that their assets are protected and they can still receive government benefits to supplement their healthcare and housing needs instead of relying exclusively on a legal guardian. Your child will have the opportunity to live a fulfilling life independently and reach out to important support systems when necessary.

It’s not always easy to tell who will grow up to be an independent adult and who will be legally incapacitated for the rest of their lives. If you’re planning for your special needs child’s future, you may wonder if a guardian will be necessary through adulthood. The good news is that the exact parameters of guardianship are rather flexible. The responsibilities can be given to a single person, or given to co-guardians. A guardian can have the responsibility for your child’s assets and finances (also called a guardian of the estate) or for your child’s personal needs, such as healthcare, education, and daily care (also called a guardian of the person). Having two people legally obligated to make decisions in your child’s best interest can help create a better balance in their lives. 

Who Should Be a Guardian?

Ultimately, the guardian you select should be someone you and your child approve of, and they should be willing and capable of the responsibility. It’s a common practice to work out guardianship with immediate family, but they may not always be the best possible choice. Like every adult, your special needs child’s life will constantly evolve and their guardian should be able to adapt to those changes. They need to be emotionally and physically capable of providing for your child, and understand that your child may need them for the rest of their lives. Unconditional love is something that everyone deserves, but you know better than anyone that even love can’t solve every hurdle your child faces. 

In addition to a close and loving relationship with your child, the guardian should be financially responsible. There are countless cases of individuals either squandering or misappropriating funds that should be reserved for your child’s needs. A guardian that has a history of financial stability would likely be the best candidate for guardianship. This is not to say that someone with fewer means wouldn’t provide adequate care or maliciously take advantage of anyone, but fiscal responsibility is one way to show you know how to manage finances effectively. 


Developing a plan for guardianship of a special needs adult requires cooperation from everyone involved in their life. It’s essential to ensure that the selected guardians fully understand the true gravity of their responsibilities and are happy to do so in your stead. Our experienced estate planning attorney can help guide you and potential guardians through the process of guardianship and plan for your child’s future. To schedule a consultation, call (718) 276-6656 today.

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Considerations For Parents of Adults with Special Needs

Ledwidge & Associates

Ledwidge & Associates, P.C. in New York City has years of experience helping clients create estate plans that fit their needs. We have the experience and resources to handle your critical legal matters with the utmost care and attention to detail.
Considerations For Parents of Adults with Special Needs

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