The Britney Spears guardianship case has brought the topic of guardianship into the spotlight lately.  People all over the world want to know more about what guardianship is and why it is used.  In this podcast episode, Annette goes over a few of the many guardianship questions she has received from listeners and followers.  Please note that guardianship laws do vary from state to state.  Please check with your state for their specific guardianship laws and procedures before beginning the guardianship process.

A Way to Connect the Disability Community

Annette opens the episode with a little explanation as to why she began this podcast.  Over 20 years ago, as a special needs mom, Annette struggled to find the information she needed for her daughter Elizabeth.  Elizabeth was born with mitochondrial disease, had a profound brain injury and was wheelchair bound.  Annette would constantly find one piece of information she needed in one place, then would have to hunt down another piece somewhere else.  There was no one place to gather all the information she needed.  This podcast was a way to try to help connect resources with families, professionals, and other interested parties in the disability community – to connect everyone together in one way, one group. Annette also created Special Needs Companies and the Facebook group Circle of Care to offer resources and a way to connect the disability community as well.

Terminate a Guardianship

The first guardianship question Annette goes over is how do you terminate a guardianship?  Annette explains this will require a trip back to court and medical documentation.  This medical evidence is needed to prove to the court that the previous incapacity the individual had that necessitated the guardianship before, is now changed and that person is now capable of making decisions for themselves.  A full guardianship may now be able to go to a limited guardianship, or a guardianship may be able to be terminated completely or go to an alternative form of guardianship.  Many states have gone from not having any alternatives to guardianship to now having supported decision making laws.  These allow a person with capacity to have a group of supporters assist in their decision making but the ultimate decision is left to the disabled person rather than left to the guardian in a guardianship situation.  

Right To Counsel

Annette also goes over the question regarding “right to counsel” within a guardianship case.  Unfortunately, this varies from state to state and there is no uniform right.  An individual may not automatically be appointed counsel because they are the subject of a guardianship petition.  The individual would need to understand that they need to hire their own counsel at their own cost if they wanted to fight the guardianship action.  This is not something that someone with diminished capacity may understand.  Nationally though, several organizations are trying to come up with best practices and guidelines where each state would have right to counsel available in all circumstances, though this would be challenging due to time and financial issues. 

Find Assistance in Your State

Annette would like to encourage each listener with guardianship questions to seek legal support in your own state.  There are a few networks to go to find an attorney:   NAELA, Special Needs Alliance and the Academy of Special Needs Planners.  You can also possibly find answers to your guardianship questions at the National Guardianship Association.

Listen to the full episode here!

Please Leave a Podcast Review

As Annette mentioned, please consider leaving a podcast review for Parenting Impossible – The Special Needs Survival Podcast on iTunes.  More positive ratings and reviews mean more new listeners are introduced to this informational and inspirational podcast.  Look at the bottom of this page for the purple oval that says “Enjoying the podcast?  Leave an iTunes review here.”  This will take you over to the iTunes site/app where you will be able to login and leave a review.  We really appreciate it!

You can also join our free Facebook group for the disability community, the “Circle of Care,” or watch the webinars and other speaking events on YouTube. The purpose of this community is to create a space for people to be themselves, ask questions and get support and answers, so please share these resources with your friends!

For information on other topics, please also check out Special Needs Companies. For legal advice, inspiration, and other resources, visit our blog here. Similarly, you can always listen to previous podcast episodes (and be sure to leave us a review), or download our free eBook here. We are always looking for podcast guests as well so please let us know if you or someone you know, has a special needs or disability topic you would like to speak about – Contact Us!

Annette Hines has been practicing in the areas of Special Needs, Elder Law, and Estate Planning for more than 20 years. Ms. Hines brings personal experience with special needs to her practice and podcasts as the mother of two daughters, one of whom passed away from Mitochondrial disease in November 2013. This deep, personal understanding of special needs fuels her passion for quality special needs planning and drives her dedication to help others within the special needs community.