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Becoming the Guardian for a Disabled Sibling

Parents and child
The loss of a parent is devastating, but the situation can become even more complicated when you have a sibling with disabilities or special needs who now requires care. Many people are confused about what to do next or even what their responsibilities are as guardians.

If you have a sibling who is unable to work due to mental or physical disability, you might consider taking on the role of guardian. If you do opt to become a guardian or conservator for your sibling, you have a lot to consider. This guide will answer some of the common questions people have about becoming guardians for their siblings.

What Is Conservatorship?

Conservatorship gives an individual the responsibility of making decisions for an individual, usually an adult, who the court considers is unable to make decisions for themselves. Guardians in a conservatorship take care of the maintenance associated with their siblings in these cases. They also make financial and medical decisions for the best of their siblings.

This position also comes with the responsibilities associated with maintaining educational and medical services for siblings. In some cases, the court may ask for regular updates on the condition of your sibling. As conservator, you are in the role of providing this information on a regular basis.

Keep in mind that, as a guardian, you do not have to be the caretaker for your sibling. If your sibling does require care, you can maintain guardianship while providing caregiving services in another way.

To obtain guardianship or conservatorship, you may have to attend a hearing in which you demonstrate you are the best person to oversee your sibling's affairs. While many cases are not contested, you may have another family member or sibling who is vying for conservatorship as well.

Do Siblings Have to Act as Conservatorship?

You do not have to act as a legal guardian or conservator as a sibling. While the courts may look to a sibling if the individual in question does not have a spouse, adult children, or living parents, you can nominate another party to act as guardian or conservator.

Keep in mind that if you do not want to be a conservator, the court may point to a public figure. If this is the case, you will not face the responsibilities associated with the financial decisions of your sibling. 

If you opt to forego the role of guardian, keep in mind that you may not have an intimate role in caregiving services for your sibling. The right to choose these services will be passed on to the individual who takes on this role.

Why Is Conservatorship Important?

Guardians help to keep their siblings safe and cared for, all the while offering the best opportunity for independence as their needs are met. While individuals with disabilities and special needs may receive funds through Social Security or Medicaid, they often need assistance using the money to pay for services.

As a guardian, one of the steps you take may include establishing a trust for your sibling. A trust fund can help you provide funds for your sibling to cover the costs of rent and bills.

While many states allow you to file conservatorship documents on your own, you would be wise to hire an attorney who understands estate planning and other financial issues.

Do you have questions about guardianship or conservatorship of a sibling with disabilities? Call Clara Yang Attorney at Law to discuss the financial and legal options available to you. We can help you establish a plan for your family in the wake of a family tragedy. Contact us today.