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Protecting Your High-Functioning Child without the Need for Guardianship

October 22, 2021

Tom asks, “I know there was a question regarding guardianship in a prior issue.  Based upon the questions that were posed in your answer, I am not sure if my daughter will need guardianship, but she may still need some protection.  Are there any alternatives to guardianship?”


Tom, thank you for your question.  Your question is very common for parents who have a child that is considered high functioning.  If you are not prepared to declare your child guardianship ready, but you still want to help him/her in certain situations, you should consider Powers of Attorney.

  • A Power of Attorney is a written document in which one person (your daughter) appoints another person (you) to act on her behalf as her agent.

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You should consider two types of Powers of Attorney.

  • A Durable Power of Attorney will allow the agent (you) to help with financial decisions in the event your daughter is in a situation where she is unable to make a decision.
  • A Health Care Power of Attorney allows your daughter to empower you with decisions regarding her healthcare or medical treatment. It becomes active when she is unable to make decisions or unable to communicate her intentions regarding her treatment.

In order for the Power of Attorney to be legally enforceable, your daughter must have an understanding of the document she is signing and the fact that she is giving you legal right to act on her behalf in the event she needs your help sometime in the future.  If she does not have the ability to understand that she is giving you this right, then the Power of Attorney may not be the correct option, and Guardianship would once again be a consideration.

For more information on how to prepare for the future, be sure to contact a financial advisor who specializes in serving families with special needs. A Special Needs Plan is driven by what they call Unleash L.I.F.E.™- L.I.F.E. meaning Lasting Independence For Everyone™. This is accomplished with education, action, and support in the creation, implementation, and continued monitoring of a specifically designed lifelong and integrated plan for your family: parents, caregivers, your loved one with special needs and their siblings.

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This article was featured in Issue 41 – Issue 41 – Celebrating Family

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