"As long as the world shall last there will be wrongs, and if no man objected
and no man rebelled, those wrongs would last forever
~Clarence Darrow

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Guardianship - Why Bother?

At the risk of beating a dead horse (but just in case you haven't figured it out yet), I, personally, feel that guardianship is something that every parent of a disabled child should give serious consideration to. Before your age child reaches the age of 19 (the age of majority in Nova Scotia).

It's definitely true that the introduction of the RDSP has brought this issue to the forefront lately given that if your adult child is not considered legally competent, you, as a parent, will be unable to open a RDSP on their behalf without guardianship. Leaving your options very limited; the only person who can open a RDSP for such an individual is a guardian, tutor, or curator of the beneficiary, or an individual who is legally authorized to act for the beneficiary; or a public department, agency, or institution that is legally authorized to act for the beneficiary.

And yet, as I've noted before, even totally independent of the RDSP issue, guardianship is extremely important:

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...

Still, as I talk to people, more and more I get the sense that people just don't get it. Or, perhaps, they would simply rather not get it.

But my concern is the possibility of some parents finding themselves and their adult children in a difficult situation down the road. A situation which could have been completely avoided.

So when I came across a paper written by Nova Scotia lawyer, Paul Miller, for the Halifax Association of Community Living on the importance of guardianship, I was anxious to share it and see it more widely circulated in the disability community. Fortunately, Mr. Miller graciously agreed.

What more can I say? Just read it.

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