This is the next post in a series of articles discussing guardianships for adult residents of Hartford, Connecticut who have intellectual disabilities. Our previous post provided an overview of the topics to be discussed throughout this series. It also stressed the importance of retaining counsel with experience in such matters to assist you through the process. In this article, we will review the circumstances under which a Probate Court will appoint a guardian for an adult. Our firm understands that the decision to establish guardianship over an adult can be difficult. We can help you understand your legal options. If you need assistance, contact our office to speak with an attorney.
When an individual reaches the age of 18, they are legally considered to be an adult and can make decisions about their life, including choices about finances, education, medical treatment, living arrangements, etc. Adults with intellectual disabilities may, in some cases, lack the capacity to make some or all of those decisions. Under such circumstances, the Probate Court may appoint a parent, another adult, an authorized state official, or a private nonprofit corporation to act as guardian. A legal guardian’s role is to assist the person in making decisions, not to dictate or control their ward’s life.
Not everyone with a developmental disability requires a guardian. Under state law, an intellectual disability is defined as a significant limitation in intellectual functioning existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior. If a person meets this definition, the Court will evaluate the condition of the individual and may appoint a guardian. The definition is strictly applied to protect the rights of those with developmental disabilities that may not need assistance. The Probate Court will determine whether and to what extent the intellectually disabled person is unable to meet the essential requirements for their physical health or safety and/or unable to make informed decisions about matters related to their care as a result of their intellectual disability. Depending upon the severity of the intellectual disability, the Court may establish a plenary (or total) or limited guardianship over the person and/or the estate of the individual. For instance, if a protected person can handle their own financial affairs, but is incapable of making decisions regarding medical treatment, the Court may appoint a limited guardian of the person. If, on the other hand, an individual is totally unable to make any care for their physical health or safety or make any informed decisions as to their care, the Court will likely appoint a plenary guardian over the estate and the person.
Understanding whether guardianship of an adult is necessary or obtainable can be complicated. Our attorneys have experience with such matters and are ready to assist you. In addition to Hartford, we serve clients in the areas of Wethersfield, New Britain, Rocky Hill, West and East Hartford, Bristol, Glastonbury, and Manchester, as well as the Middlesex County cities of Middletown and Cromwell.