For most parents, one of their biggest goals and achievements will be helping their children achieve independence by the time they are legally adults. Some young adults are ready to move out and start jobs when they turn 18, while others may need financial and social support as they pursue higher education, trade school or unpaid internships.

Parents who have children with special needs face a very different reality when their child turns 18. They have to ask themselves whether their newly adult child truly has the ability to take care of themselves. They also need to consider future needs and support that could help their child thrive.

If you worry that your child won’t be able to take care of themselves, seeking a conservatorship might protect you both.

Depending on the circumstances, there are multiple options available

There are three different kinds of conservatorships available in California. Two of them are known as probate conservatorships. A general conservatorship is the most common and involves an adult taking responsibility for another adult for financial and legal reasons. A limited conservatorship allows an adult to support an adult with special needs without completely stripping them of their personal rights and responsibilities.

Some families may also require a Lanterman-Petris-Short (LPS) guardianship, which usually comes into play if someone must live in a residential facility because of a severe mental health condition. LPS conservatorships are useful when the family recognizes the need for medical care that the individual does not acknowledge.

Talking to an experienced attorney about the needs and abilities of your teenage child with special needs can give you a clearer idea of what form of conservatorship could benefit your family.