Guardianship, Estate Planning & Supported Decision Making

  • two people discussing paperwork Guardianship is the legal process of determining a person’s capacity to make decisions for himself or herself regarding his or her personal affairs (such as where he or she lives or the care he or she requires.)

    Conservatorship is similar to guardianship, but deals only with financial affairs of an individual. It is not unusual for the powers of guardianship and conservatorship to be vested in the same person.

    Supported decision making (SDM) is an alternative to guardianship that allows an individual with a disability to work with a team and make his or her own choices about his or her own life. Under this model, the individual designates people to be part of a support network to help with decision making.

    Prior to turning 17, your IEP case manager will share with you information regarding the “Transfer of Rights.” This is typically done at the annual IEP meeting prior to turning 17. Per federal law, the transfer of rights means that persons 18 years of age and older have the right to make decisions for themselves including medical, employment and, at times, educational.

    Parents are notified of this naturally occurring event in their child’s life so that parents can determine if they will allow this transfer of rights to occur or if, due to the nature of the child’s disability, they will seek legal support to maintain some or all decision making abilities for their child once they turn 18.

Resource Links

Transition Planning By Age

  • Ages 3-5
  • Ages 6-11
  • Ages 12-15
  • Ages 16-21