Family members of individuals with intellectual disabilities go to extraordinary lengths to provide their loved ones with proper supports, services, and care. Establishing guardianship is often a necessary part of protecting the health and safety of individuals with intellectual disabilities. Yet, while many people are generally familiar with the concept of guardianship, few know what guardianship of an individual with an intellectual disability actually entails.
Let us be your guide!
An individual with an intellectual disability may need a guardian to make decisions related to his or her health and well-being. Guardianship can be established once the individual turns 18, in the probate court located in the individual’s town or residence.
In order to apply, you must fill out form that is found on the Connecticut probate court’s website for Guardianship of a Person with an Intellectual Disability.
There are two types of guardianship for individuals with intellectual disability: plenary guardianship and limited guardianship.
A plenary guardian is appointed where the probate judge finds that the individual is incapable of making any decisions related to his or her care. A plenary guardian is authorized to “supervise all aspects of the care of an adult person,” including decisions about where the individual lives, their medical care, their educational and employment opportunities, and other supports and services the individual receives.
Unlike a plenary guardian, a limited guardian is appointed where the probate judge finds that the individual with an intellectual disability is capable of making some informed decisions pertaining to their health and safety, but not all decisions. For these individuals, the court will specifically limit the authority given to the guardian, in order to allow the individual to maintain their independent decision-making abilities.
You can also apply to be appointed as Guardian with another person (Co-Guardians), or to be a Standby—or “back-up” Guardian, if something should happen to the primary Guardian.
The application process
In completing the application, you must state that the person with the intellectual disability is either partially or completely unable to make decisions regarding their health, safety, or care. After all, if the individual is capable of making fully informed decisions about their health and safety, then they would not need a guardian.
When you file an application for guardianship, the court will schedule a hearing to review the request. At least 45 days before the hearing, three representatives from the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) will evaluate whether the individual has an intellectual disability, and if so, how the individual’s disability affects their ability to make decisions related to their health and safety. At the hearing, the court will review the DDS report and any other information it needs to determine that the individual has an intellectual disability and is either partially or fully incapable of making decisions for their own health and safety.
Once appointed, guardians must complete a probate court form each year updating the court on the individual’s well being. The court will review whether the guardianship should remain in place at least once every three years. Most importantly, once appointed, you will have the necessary authority to protect the health, safety, and well being of your loved one.
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