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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.

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.

Michigan Resources:

National Resources:

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