Parents who want the best for their children want to make sure that they will be financially comfortable and safe when they grow up. Most of the time, this means making sure your kids get an education and guidance so they can become independent adults. For children with serious intellectual or physical disabilities, this may not be an option.

In Florida, as your children’s parent, you have the right to control their finances, medical care, and living arrangements. This lasts until they turn 18, at which point they become legal adults — whether or not they are mentally able to handle their own affairs. In reality, most parents of children with severe disabilities will continue to take care of them, either directly or by making sure they are receiving professional care.

Guardianships for adult children with special needs

A legal tool called guardianship works to give you continued legal rights over some or all aspects of your child’s life, even after they turn 18. You can customize the terms of the guardianship so that you have control over things your child, or ward, does not have the capacity to take care of, while your child retains the rest of their rights. For example, you might gain control over money and investments in your child’s name, while your child can retain rights over their right to vote and where they want to live.

A guardian is not necessarily responsible for taking care of the ward’s everyday needs. It is more about having decision-making powers. For instance, if a guardian has power over a ward’s medical care, he or she has the responsibility to decide what types of treatment the ward will receive.

Legal help for your family

Obtaining guardianship over your child can be a complicated process. To make sure it goes as smoothly as possible, you should consult a special needs planning attorney.