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5 Alternatives to Legal Guardianship for Adults with Disabilities

January 11, 2024

Imagine a future for your loved one where they are safeguarded and they maintain their freedoms, rights, and a valued place in their community. In the past, it was thought legal guardianship for adults with disabilities was the only way to safeguard.

However, I’ve uncovered five alternatives to legal guardianship for adults with disabilities that could reshape the way your loved one’s future, securing their vulnerabilities and positioning them as a valued person in their community and family.

What is Legal Guardianship for Adults with Disabilities?

Guardianship means obtaining the legal authority to make decisions for another person. This happens by going to court and proving that your loved one with a disability is incapable to a judge, who would then appoint a guardian. Now again, this might seem like a good idea, but please exhaust all of the alternatives before going forward with guardianship because guardianship removes all of your loved one’s rights!

5 Alternatives to Guardianship

Let’s explore the menu of available alternatives to legal guardianship for adults with disabilities, like picking the perfect ingredients for your loved one’s unique journey. It’s not just about one alternative; it’s about crafting a life where many of these alternatives work together to safeguard and empower your loved one.

1. Joint Bank Accounts:

  • By managing money in a join bank account, the second person on the account can legally support your loved one to manage their money.
  • Consider having multiple join bank accounts for spending (monthly budget amount) and savings (Remaining funds) to provide additional levels of protection.

2. Healthcare Decision-Making Laws:

  • Understand the existing laws for medical decisions in your areas. Depending on where you live the law may state that the next closest family member can support in making medical decisions.

3. Power of Attorney:

  • A power of attorney is a legal document that you sign to give one person, or more than one person, the authority to manage your money and property, healthcare on your behalf. This is a lighter alternative to guardianship.
  • Consult a knowledgeable disability lawyer to explore the potential fit for your loved one.

4. Trusts

  • A trust is a legal arrangement in which a person or a financial institution, called the trustee, holds and manages assets for the beneficiary (your loved one).
  • The main purpose of a trust for people with a disability is typically to hold and manage assets that must be used to benefit your loved one while maintaining government benefits they may receive.
  • In the United States It is called a Special Needs Trust (SNT).
  • In Canada, it is called a Henson Trust.

5. Supported Decision-Making Agreements:

  • A Supported Decision-Making Agreement is a written agreement between your loved one and a person they choose to help them make decisions. This person then helps your loved one make decisions – they do not make decisions for your loved one.
  • Supported Decision-Making Agreements are a newer concept and are only permitted into law in some jurisdictions.
  • Research the legal standing of these agreements in your jurisdiction because the laws are changing to include them.

These alternatives to legal guardianship for adults with disabilities open doors to a to secure a future where your loved one where their rights and freedoms remain intact.

In the video below, I provide more details behind each alternative to guardianship and give you insights that will help you secure your loved one’s future!

Click below to watch the short video:

P.S. Help your loved one with a disability to live a safe and secure life by getting my Life Planning 101 guide!

-> Download My Free Life Planning 101 Guide


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