Legal Issues

Legal issues can arise from time to time in life. When there is a child with a disability in the family, some legal issues like divorce, custody, and caregiving must be handled with careful consideration of that person and how they will be affected.
It is very important that parents know about and understand some legal aspects that are specific to their child with disabilities.
These concerns include guardianship, finances, and services.
  • Will they be independent as an adult or will they need a guardian to take care of them and assist them through adulthood?
  • How does the Guardianship process work?
  • Should they have a Special Needs Trust to protect money for their future needs?
  • What types of accounts can they save money with and not have it affect benefits such as SSI and Medicaid?
This section should help you to better understand some of these legal issues regarding your child or young adult and how to plan for their future.


Information & Support

For Professionals

A Family Handbook on Future Planning (ARC)
Helps families develop a plan that provides personal, financial, and legal protections for their children with cognitive, intellectual, or developmental disabilities after the parents either die or can no longer provide care; The Arc.

For Parents and Patients

Special Needs Alliance
The Special Needs Alliance is a national, nonprofit organization of member attorneys who work regularly with public benefits, guardianships/ conservatorships, planning for disabilities and special education issues, much of it voluntary.

Guardianship Associates of Utah
Provides information and referral service for guardianship issues. Written materials, kits, and presentations are available; can help families obtain guardianship on an incapacitated family member; may be able to act as a legal guardian for incapacitated persons who have no family able to do so.

Office of Public Guardian, Utah
Provides public guardianship and conservatorship services to incapacitated adults. 801-538-8255.

Disability Law Center, Utah
A nonprofit organization designated by the Governor to protect the rights of people with disabilities in Utah. Mission: to enforce and strengthen laws that protect the opportunities, choices and legal rights of people with disabilities in Utah.

National Guardianship Association
The website is an excellent source of information on the rights and responsibilities of the incapacitated individual, as well as the guardian. The site also has resources and provides educational training and network opportunities for guardians.

American Bar Association Commission on Mental and Physical Disability Law
Provides information on all aspects of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and related legislation, including caregiver rights.

Special Needs Trust
A comprehensive discussion of special needs trusts from the National Institute on Life Planning for Persons with Disabilities.

Financial Planning, Exceptional Parent Magazine
An in-depth resource that provides information about trusts, the legal side of financial strategies, divorce, and more. Exceptional Parent Magazine, search "financial."

Sound Financial Strategies (PDF Document)
Provides information about special needs trusts including trustees and oversight.

Estate Planning
Information on estate planning and the disabled from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.



See all Guardianship services providers (9) in our database.

Legal Services, General

See all Legal Services, General services providers (67) in our database.

For other services related to this condition, browse our Services categories or search our database.


Authors: Tina Persels - 9/2016
Chuck Norlin, MD - 12/2003
Reviewing Authors: Gina Pola-Money - 6/2008
Alfred Romeo, RN, PhD - 6/2008
Content Last Updated: 9/2016