"There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things."

~ Niccolo Machiavelli, historian and writer

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Legal Guardianship ... Why? [Part I]

In law, a "guardian" is a word used to describe a person who has the care or custody of another individual and who has a legal duty to provide for that individual. Just as we tend to think of parent-child relationships when we think of guardianship, so too most of the laws around guardianship deal with that relationship. So why would you, as a parent or other family member, even consider obtaining guardianship of your young adult child or family member with a disability?

Because guardianship is also available for adults who need another person to legally make decisions on their behalf. Obviously not every indvidual with a mental or physical disability or mental illness will require a guardian. However, your young adult family member might need a guardian for very specific areas of decision-making or for most or all aspects of daily living. The needs of adults who need a guardian are as varied as are their abilities to make their own decisions.

And when it comes to your family member with a disability, you may want to consider this. If you're the parent of a child with a significant disability, you have played a direct and vital role in their life for all of their life. But that can easily change, in the blink of an eye even, once they reach the legal age of majority. In Nova Scotia, that magic age is 19.
At 19 years of age, your child, disabled or not, is legally considered to be an adult and, from the point of view of the law, you will have no more right to make binding decisions for that child than you would for any other adult in the Province. Nor will you legally have the right to access information, including medical information, about your young adult child without that child's consent. And if your child is considered mentally incapable of giving such consent...

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