Parents have enough reason to worry about their children entering the adult world at 18, but for Iowa parents with disabled children, such worries are multiplied substantially. Some parents wonder if they should place their child under an appointed guardianship. But at the same time, they do not want to stifle their child’s independence. There is, however, more leeway in a guardianship than many people may know, which can help parents with their specific wishes for their child.
First, it is important to recognize that a guardian is not a fulltime caretaker. Findlaw points out that guardians exist to make decisions that disabled persons cannot make by themselves. Additionally, guardians only have those specific powers to do what their wards cannot. A ward that, for example, cannot make financial choices but is still adept at certain forms of labor would have a guardian with broader jurisdiction over financial choices than the ward’s job activities.
Given these options, parents with a disabled child would need to properly assess their child’s abilities so they can tailor the powers of the guardian to their child's particular needs. These can include, but are not limited to:
- the child’s ability to take care of him or herself
- the child’s capacity for verbal speech
- how well a child can earn a living
- how well the child can live independently of other people
- the child’s specific medical needs and possible treatments
Additionally, some parents may wonder if their child needs a conservatorship, or may think a guardian performs the same duties as a conservator anyway. According to the Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services website, a guardian makes personal decisions for a ward while a conservator makes decisions that govern the ward’s finances, including the ward’s estate. It is possible for a disabled person to only need a guardian but not a conservator. Some people, however, will grant a single person both guardianship and conservatorship powers if their child requires it.