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Guardianship

Guardianship is a legal relationship created when a court determines that a person is incapable of making sound decisions in important areas that affect the person due to incapacity, including intellectual disability or developmental disability (ID/DD). A guardian is given authority to make decisions for the person in some or all areas of the person’s life. This entry describes the guardianship process, the trend toward “limited” guardianship, and some common alternatives to guardianship, including supported decision- making (SDM).

Reasons for Guardianship

In the United States, guardianship of a person with ID/DD becomes an issue when the person reaches adulthood (age 18 in most states). When a minor, a child’s biological or adoptive parents are considered to be the child’s “natural guardians” and can make all decisions for ...

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