If you are the parent of a special needs child, no matter what age, start thinking about guardianship. Here is a “To Do” List to help get you started:
- At age 17, contact an attorney to determine the fee schedule – if necessary, begin saving for the attorney’s fee or set the money aside as soon as possible.
- Remember – if you are applying for the guardianship, you will also have to pay the court-appointed attorney’s fees. Fees range from $1,200 and up, depending upon the complexity of the action and the individual’s fees. Most judges will require that you pay the attorney within ten (10) days of the final judgment appointing you as guardian.
- Begin discussing guardianship with family members.
- If you are contemplating divorce from the parent of your special needs child, ensure that guardianship issues are discussed and settled in your divorce decree.
- If you are already divorced and you have not settled this issue with your ex-spouse, begin that conversation – either yourself or through your family law attorney. Contact a family law mediator to work through these issues.
- Begin contemplating a Special Needs Trust – there are many financial issues that can impact the receipt of Medicaid and other government benefits.
- Discuss estate planning with your spouse and grandparents regarding the special needs child as beneficiary – consult an attorney to determine the best way to do so in order to preserve the child’s entitlement to government benefits.