As youth with disabilities transition to adulthood, consideration is sometimes given to guardianship. This is a confusing concept to many, and often it is uncertain as to whether the youth is in need of some type of legal advocacy in their adult life.
When individuals with disabilities reach the age of 18, they are legally considered to be adults and in charge of their own education decisions. At this point, some will need to have parents or another adult appointed as guardian, to handle all or most of the decision-making. On the other hand, high-functioning individuals with disabilities who are continuing their schooling will not need a guardian but may still need help investigating their options and navigating the education bureaucracy. How can high-functioning young adults with disabilities keep their parents involved and legally permitted to participate in education decisions when guardianship is not appropriate? There’s an innovative alternative which can answer that need: an education power of attorney.
This tool can be very empowering for individuals with disabilities. It enables them to concentrate on learning by freeing them from potentially stressful activities such as filling out forms or standing in a real or “virtual” line to register for classes. The young adult determines who will be the agent to act on his behalf, as well as the scope of the agent’s potential actions, while retaining the authority to revoke the power of attorney at any time.