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  • Autism Council of Utah


Updated: Jan 18

Guardianship cases can only be heard and determined by the court once an individual has reached the age 18. Cases CAN be filed prior to an individuals 18th birthday, but CANNOT be heard by the court before the person’s 18th birthday.

Many people with Autism will still need some type of help from their parents and/or family even into adulthood. Their needs will depend on their capacity to make decisions on financial issues, paying bills, when to see a doctor and medical treatments.

Bill of Rights and the Supported Decision Making Legislation ~ Discussion Panel.

The Utah Parent Center offers many free trainings in cooperation with Guardianship associates. This will help prepare you for the upcoming requrements of obtaining guardianship, if your young adult will need that type of support.

“Guardianship Associates of Utah also recommends that parents start the entire process 6-8 weeks prior to their child’s 18th birthday. This allows plenty of time to obtain legal representation if that is their choice or receive the necessary training if choosing to act Pro Se.

Supported Decision Making ~

Side By Side Comparison ~

Guardianship has many choices and options. However, the terms, process and details are often confusing.  Below are some of those options and definitions.

  • GUARDIANSHIP  A legal relationship created when a person is named/appointed by the court to take care of incompetent adults.  Use this in particular if the adult is extremely vulnerable and unable to make basic decisions on needs and finances.

  • CONSERVATOR  A guardian appointed by a judge to protect and manage the financial affairs of an incompetent adult.

  • LIMITED OR PARTIAL GUARDIANSHIP  A guardian appointed for certain areas such as medical decisions.  Also includes guardianship over property such as the child’s bank accounts (a health care proxy for medical decisions or a power of attorney and even a joint checking account for financial decisions may also accomplish this).

  • TEMPORARY GUARDIANSHIP  A guardian appointed for emergency situations when decisions must be made right away.

  • WILL  A legal document that allows you to decide how your assets get distributed after you die, and also includes information on who will get custody of minor children or be the replacement guardian for an incompetent adult.  It is extremely important to keep your will updated – especially when it involves assigning custody of your child.  It is a public document, and will require the involvement of a state probate court to administer.  It’s inexpensive to set up a basic will and highly recommended for all parents with a child under 18, or those who serve as a guardian for an adult with ASD. In many states, wills can be created for free online.

  • TRUST  Also called a living trust, this is a document that makes all of your assets available for the benefit of another (called the beneficiary).  It’s a private document and specifies how your assets will be distributed immediately upon your death without going through the often lengthy and expensive state probate court process.  If you choose to, you can appoint people to oversee only financial issues and give custody to others in a special needs trust. For parents of adults with ASD, look into setting up a special needs trust which will allow the child to remain eligible for social security benefits and Medicaid. The costs of setting up a special needs trust can be deducted from your taxes. Sample Special Needs Trust Documents

  • DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY  A legal document that grants the parent the right to make many business and financial decisions such as banking transactions, dealing with agencies, etc.  This is a helpful option when the adult may be independent in some areas but sill needs help in others, particularly as it relates to financial issues.  Check your state website for samples of the general durable power of attorney forms and any local agencies you must deal with for any specific forms they may require.

  • HEALTH CARE PROXY  Similar to the durable power of attorney but used to grant the parent the authority to make medical decisions on behalf of the adult with ASD.

  • JOINT CHECKING ACCOUNT  A bank account in which both owners have equal access to the account.  This is appropriate for a high-functioning adult with ASD who needs some help instead of complete control by the parent to make financial decisions.

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