Navigating the System
A Guide for People with Traumatic Brain Injury and Their Families

What do I need to know before my child with TBI reaches age 18?

Sep 24, 2013, 17:25 PM
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Your child will legally become an adult at age 18, with adult rights and responsibilities. If he has significant cognitive limitations that impair his ability to assume these responsibilities, you may need legal advice on establishing Power of Attorney and/or Guardianship or Conservatorship.

 It is important to understand that once your teen reaches the age of 18, he is legally an adult (whether or not he can function competently as an adult) and does not have to cooperate with you in setting up these protections. So, if guardianship, conservatorship, or power of attorney is needed to protect your teen as he enters adulthood, you should establish them BEFORE your teen reaches age 18 to avoid a difficult and perhaps confrontational process to attempt to override his adult rights after the fact.

 Some questions to ask yourself well before your teenager with TBI reaches age 18:

  • How sound is his judgment?
  • Does she understand the consequences of actions and decisions?
  • Does she remember and accurately carry out decisions she has made previously?
  • Can he handle his finances? Pay bills regularly? Live within a budget?
  • Will she be able to live independently? What supports might be needed? Is she able to manage support employees (hiring, scheduling, problem-solving, payroll?)
  • Is he able to communicate his needs so that others understand and can respond?
  • Who will look out for her if we become ill or die?

 The Arizona Center for Disability Law provides information and resources for a variety of disability-related legal processes designed to protect the rights, safety and well-being of your loved one. Click on the links on this page to find resources.

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