For most individuals, advancing from childhood into adulthood is a process that bears witness to the transfer of rights and responsibilities from the adolescent’s parents or guardians to them. Once a child attains the age of 18, they are generally permitted to function based on their own decisions and preferences. While some individuals of this age are supported by their parents after they reach the age of majority, individuals attain certain adult rights regardless, such as the right to vote and the right to enlist in the military.
However, if an individual suffers from a disability that prevents them from living independently, they may be given a guardian. Different disabilities, such as those that impact both mental and physical attributes, may result in individuals who cannot care for their own needs, express their own wants, or manage their own money.
A guardian is a person who has the authority to make money and medical decisions for their ward, ensure that their ward is receiving adequate educational and occupational support, and performs other necessary help as needed. A guardian can be appointed by a court or chosen by an individual, and guardians have an ongoing duty to report on the well-being and needs of the ward under their care.
To the extent possible, though, wards should be allowed to exercise as much of their own freedom and autonomy as possible. If a ward can handle some of their own needs, then they should be allowed to undertake those free of the interference of their guardian. Different guardian-ward legal relationships may function differently and readers should not make assumptions about specific guardian cases based on this post.
This post offers no legal advice and guardianship questions should be directed to knowledgeable legal professionals. Guardianship is an important legal power and those who take it on should be prepared to work for the benefit of those under their care.