Visit Transition to Adulthood for more resources on the transition process.
After a student turns 18, they get to make their own decisions. Sometimes a student with a disability has difficulty making decisions and handling all the responsibilities of being an adult. A family member might consider getting guardianship. Before asking for a guardian, it is important to consider other options.
A guardian is someone appointed to make legal decisions for another person (called the ward). Guardianship is the legal proceeding in court. When a court gives powers to a guardian, they take those same rights away from the individual. Once in place, a guardianship can only be removed by a court order.
Because guardianship deprives an individual of their right to be accommodated and supported, it should only be used when necessary. Removing a person’s rights makes them more vulnerable, not less. For that reason, it is important to look at alternatives.
Most people with a disability are able to take care of their own lives without a guardian. There are alternatives to guardianship that can meet the needs of an individual without going to court. Everyone is different, and what works for one situation may not work for another. If you are thinking about a guardianship or its alternatives, you should talk to an experienced attorney in the field.
Supported Decision Making
Every person can make choices and has a right to make decisions. Supported decision-making can give individuals the assistance they need to make decisions for themselves. For example, family members and friends can help point out risks, advantages, and consequences of a decision. Things can be explained in a way that the person can understand, giving them information for making the choice. If someone can get the supports and services they need and want with the help of family and friends, there is no need for guardianship.
- Supported Decision Making Overview Michigan Developmental Disabilities Council
- Supported Decision Making Video The Arc Michigan
- National Resource Center for Supported Decision Making
- Supported Decision Making Overview CSHCS
Alternatives to Guardianship
Alternatives to guardianship support an individual to make choices and live a life that meets his or her needs. The information on this website can help you learn more about the alternatives to guardianship.
- Reflections on Autonomy by Dohn Hoyle
- Alternatives to Guardianship by Marsha Katz
- Guide to Medical Powers of Attorney from The Arc Michigan
- Michigan Advanced Directive for Mental Health Care by Bradley Geller
- Durable Power of Attorney for Finances State Bar Michigan
- Advance Directive/Living Will from University of Michigan
- Trust as an Alternative to Guardianship by Joel S. Welber
- “Civil Death” of Rights of People with Disabilities and the Elderly under Guardianships by National Council on Disability
- Your Life, Your Choice: Supported Decision-Making Toolkit A resource designed for all people, that recognizes their uniqueness and individuality and helps them, their families, and those who support them, throughout their lifespan to make decisions.
- Guardianship Alternatives Information Network (GAIN) exists to help people with disabilities and their families make a good, informed decision about guardianship and its alternatives. 1-866-365-3231
- After I’m Gone Program assists parents of children and adults with disabilities in planning for their son or daughter’s future when they are no longer able to provide care.
- The Arc Michigan Rethinking Guardianship Resources
- Local Arc Chapters
- Probate Information Guardianship
- Center on Youth Voice Youth Choice
- Information for Students and Families About Alternatives to Guardianship for Education Decisions