At 18 all individuals, including those with developmental disabilities, reach the legal age of majority. This means that parents can no longer make decisions legally on behalf of an adult child, regardless of the nature of the individual's disability and regardless of whether or not the individual still lives with the family.
Some families may want to consider guardianship as an option for their family member. A guardian is defined as “a person or agency appointed by a court to act on behalf of an individual”.
Establishing guardianship is a legal process, and many families turn to the Bureau of Guardianship Services at the Department of Human Services for help with the process. Guardianship, however, can be established without the Bureau’s involvement.
In all cases, guardianship should be viewed as a solution of last resort, because it removes an individual’s fundamental right of self-determination. Before you apply there are alternatives to guardianship that may be appropriate for your family member.