Your Child with Disabilities is Turning 18
Authored By: Northwest Justice Project
- Read this in:
- Spanish / Español
If you have a child who is unable to care for them self because of a disability, you may be concerned about what to do when your child turns 18. Parents do not automatically have the authority to make legal decisions for their children who turn 18, when the law considers the person an adult. #3303EN
- Is this for me?
- Should I file for guardianship?
- What is informed consent?
- What is the Consent to Health Care Statute?
- How do I make health care decisions for an incapacitated adult?
- What is a representative payee?
- Who uses representative payees?
- How do I manage their benefits?
- Do I need to be a guardian to be a representative payee?
- What if the person getting benefits does not want me to be payee?
- Where can I get more info?
Your child cannot care for themselves because of a disability.
You want to know what to do when your child turns 18.
This means going to court. It can be costly.
You may not need a guardianship. We explain options here. One might meet your child’s needs.
Adults generally have the right to decide about their own medical care and/or treatment. Informed Consent means making such decisions after medical providers inform you about
The possible risks and benefits.
To give informed consent, you must be able to understand your choices and decide.
*Health care consent for children under 18 is different. RCW 7.70.065(2).
This Washington law allows you in some situations to make health care decisions for an adult whose mental incapacity keeps them from doing so. RCW 7.70.065(1). The law looks for a substitute decision maker for an adult in this order:
An appointed guardian.
Someone with durable power of attorney to make the patient’s health care decisions.
The patient’s spouse or registered domestic partner.
The patient’s children who are at least age eighteen (as a group).
The patient’s parents (as a group).
Starting 7/28/19, the patient’s adult brothers and sisters (as a group).
Starting 7/28/19, the patient’s adult grandchildren who know the patient
Starting 7/28/19, The patient’s adult aunts and uncles who know the patient
Starting 7/28/19, in some cases, an adult with a special relationship to the patient described in RCW 7.70.065(1)(a)(x)(A).
You choose what they would want if they were competent to decide. If you cannot do this, you should decide based on what you believe is in their “best interests.”
A government agency appoints a representative payee to receive and manage benefits for someone whose disability keeps them from doing it themselves. If your adult child gets government benefits, you can ask the agency to appoint you payee.
Social Security Administration
You must use their benefits for their personal care or well-being.
They may not want a payee at all. They may want someone else to be payee. The agency in charge of the benefits can explain any rights the person has to object and to appeal the decision.
Northwest Justice Project produced this publication based in part on materials previously produced by Columbia Legal Services with funding from the Snohomish Co. Department of Human Services.
This publication provides general information concerning your rights and responsibilities. It is not intended as a substitute for specific legal advice.
This information is current as of June 2019.
© 2019 Northwest Justice Project — 1-888-201-1014.
(Permission for copying and distribution granted to the Alliance for Equal Justice and to individuals for non-commercial purposes only.)