Once a child with disabilities reaches 18 years, while it may seem obvious to parents that the child cannot make reasonable decisions, the law considers her an adult and parents are no longer legally able to make decisions for her. She is presumed competent unless a court determines otherwise. This has many implications for parents. For instance, medical insurance companies and physicians will usually refuse to communicate with parents regarding their child’s health care issues. If the adult with disabilities runs away or is lost, many law enforcement agencies view the individual as an “adult” and will not search as readily.

Parents should secure guardianship as close to the child’s 18th birthday as possible. Utah law requires that parents hire an attorney to represent their adult child in the proceedings. The parents can represent themselves, or have an attorney, different from their child’s attorney, represent them. The courts require several pleadings be filed with the court and a hearing in front of a judge to secure guardianship.

Lisa has helped with several guardianships, representing either the parents or the potential ward (adult with disabilities). Contact Lisa Thornton to set up a consultation to determine whether seeking guardianship is a wise option for your situation.


Jeff and Deana H.

Together as spouses we talked about our end-of-life wishes and also made provisions for our other child. We are glad we took the time to make these important decisions, and we are grateful for the sensitivity Ms. Thornton gave to our unique situation.

We just want to thank you for your work on getting us guardianship over our son with special needs. For a long time, we have been very nervous about how to go about it, and you took care of everything perfectly. There was a lot that needed to been done, and you handled it all. You made going to court as easy as possible and took away all of our worries. Thank you for all of your help. We appreciate it so much. We highly recommend you to anyone needing legal help with their special needs children.

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