When a child reaches the age of 18, by law, without regard for a child's mental and physical abilities, he/she is deemed to be an adult and in charge of his/her decisions. On their 18th birthday, disabled children are in charge of their legal, financial, and educational matters.
Regional Center, educational institutions, and medical doctors (just to name a few) are not allowed to discuss your child's financial, educational or medical issues with you anymore once your child has his/her 18th birthday. As a parent, you know your child's abilities and shortcomings more than anyone else. You know that your disabled child cannot make his/her financial, educational or medical decisions by themselves. What can you do?
In California, we have "limited" conservatorships which allows a parent, family member, friend or neutral third party become a conservator to handle the aforementioned issues on behalf of a disabled adult.
A Limited Conservatorship applies only to adults with a developmental disability, as defined in California law. The purpose of limited conservatorship is to protect adults with developmental disabilities from harm or exploitation while allowing for the development of maximum self-reliance and independence.
A limited conservatorship is a court-approved, legal relationship between a competent adult (Conservator) and an adult with a developmental disability (Conservatee), which gives the Conservator a defined degree of authority and duty to act on behalf of the Conservatee in making decisions affecting the Conservatee’s life.
The protection is considered "limited" because the Conservator is given authority to make decisions only in areas where the court believes the disabled person needs help. Therefore, the judge can make a separate decision (on a case by case basis) about whether the Conservator will have any of the following seven rights:
- The right to determine where and with whom the Conservatee lives;
- The right to access the Conservatee‘s confidential (educational, medical, etc.) records;
- To give or withhold consent to the Conservatee’s marriage;
- To sign all contracts on behalf of the Conservatee;
- To give or withhold consent to the Conservatee’s medical treatment;
- To control the Conservatee’s social or sexual contacts; and
- To make decisions regarding the Conservatee’s education.
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