Special Needs Guardianship Information
Stewart Home & School does not require legal guardianship be established for students, however when granting permissions and giving direction, legal guardianship establishes the clarity and authority necessary for medical and financial decisions as well as for participation in activities and programs. Generally it will be parents who pursue this process; siblings or other relatives may also apply or they may serve as successors or back-up guardians. Occasionally, an attorney, accountant, or bank will be fiduciary and family members will be guardian of the person. They will work together to insure the future care and welfare of the person.
Partial guardianships allow retention of voting rights and other rights, as specified by the court. Periodic reports by the guardian may be required by the court in order to determine that the person is well cared for and the guardian is acting in the best interest of the person. The review of these reports also serve to confirm the continuation of the need for guardianship. The court determines the need by assigning evaluators: a physician, psychologist, and social worker to perform tests. Their results are reported in a trial by jury and when the need is established, the judge considers the application(s) of the people who have petitioned the court to make the determination. The petitioner(s) must be present. The judge will assign guardianship and consider assigning successors or back up guardians.
Guardianship can be filed for in the petitioners home state or where the person with intellectual disabilities resides, in our case, Kentucky. For our families who have chosen to complete the process in Kentucky, these hearings are held at the Franklin County Courthouse in Frankfort, Kentucky on Wednesday mornings. They usually last an hour. An attorney is assigned to represent the student. Petitioners do not need attorneys unless there is a dispute among them. The current cost of the evaluations and the attorney and filing fees is approximately $1600.
Some families prefer to pursue Power of Attorney status and if students truly have the capacity for informed consent, POA might accomplish the same purpose and protections. Occasionally, guardianship hearings result in that recommendation.
We will be happy to discuss this process. There are currently two forms necessary to file for guardianship.
Guardianship requirements, procedures and costs vary widely from state to state. You may want to speak with your local officials to determine the best way to set up the protections necessary for your family member.