How the guardianship process differs from the other options
- The guardianship process was not created specifically for individuals with developmental disabilities like the guardian advocate process was (most guardianship cases are for the elderly). Because these cases involve the court determining if the individual is legally incapacitated versus relying on a medical diagnosis, they can be a bit more complex and it’s a longer process to become a guardian through this option. There is also a higher burden of proof in these cases.
- A panel of three experts (at least two are generally doctors) will interview and examine the adult with developmental disabilities to determine if they are unable to make their own decisions in any area. If they do not find issues in at least one area, the full guardianship case will not be able to move forward.
- Like the guardian advocate process, a lawyer will be assigned to the adult with developmental disabilities if they don't have their own. The process requires one or more court hearings before a judge to determine if they are completely or partially incapacitated.
- If the adult with developmental disabilities is found to be only partially incapacitated (can independently make decisions in some areas), the judge is required by law to see if a less restrictive alternative to guardianship is available. If this occurs, the case may be moved to a guardian advocate case.