If you are the parent of a disabled child who will be turning 18 in the near future you may need to consider adult guardianship. All children, regardless of the presence of a disability, are considered legal adults when they turn 18 unless a court finds they need the assistance of a guardian to make medical, legal, and financial decisions. Adult guardianship is a legal process and a judge or jury must find that a person is incapacitated as defined in Alaska Statute 13.26.005(5) in order to appoint a guardian.
If you question whether your son or daughter meets the legal definition of incapacity and needs a guardian when he or she turns 18 years old, you may want to consult with other professionals working with your child, especially the medical doctor, for their opinion. Remember that while you may petition for appointment of a guardian, a judge makes the final decision with input from the medical expert and the court visitor. In addition, your child will be appointed an attorney to represent the child's express wishes or appointed a guardian ad Litem if your child is not capable of understanding the process or participating in attorney client relationship.
In determining when to file a petition for guardianship, remember that generally the court has four months to schedule a hearing, so it is a good idea to file the petition when your child is approximately 17 3/4 years old.