Special considerations arise for children with disabilities. Parents or parental surrogates have legal authority over their minor children and so can make decisions on their behalf. But they can no longer make decisions for offspring who have reached 18 absent a Guardian appointment. It is essential that parents be decision-makers for their disabled children for medical, educational, legal, and any and all other matters.
A good rule of thumb is that parents of a child with a disability should consider initiating a Guardianship proceeding mid-way through the child’s 17th year. This will generally allow time for the proceedings to be completed.
Once initiated, a Guardianship allows appointment of a temporary guardian during the pendency of the proceeding typically not to exceed 45 days. This is an important step in minimizing gaps in decision-making. N.J.S.A. 3B:12-24.1(c) et seq.