When your child on the Autism Spectrum, comes of age, what do you do to help them with their financial decisions? Many folks on the spectrum can deal with money, and will have no issues with money, but for others there will be a need to have safeguards put in place to protect them and help them with their money (and financial decisions). My assumption had been, that (if need be) for my son, I would simply set up a Power of Attorney for Autistic loved one, and that would help protect my son, however, I learned from another parent who has a son that is older than 18, that this is not the case.
Since Autism is viewed as a mental incapacity, a Power of Attorney for Autistic (diagnosed) adults can usually not be used. The simple explanation I can give, is that due to the mental handicap, the person cannot delegate their decisions using a power of attorney, because they do not understand (i.e. competency) what they are delegating or what they are signing. When my friend told me this one, I had one of those, “Oh crap!”, moments.
What need to be done in these situations is setting up a parent as the Statutory guardian for the child (or family member), and this (unfortunately) is a very daunting task, where a lawyer is needed to file documents with the courts (because the Power of Attorney can be done (in most cases) using simple kits that are available on-line). I am sure there are folks that feel they are competent enough to do this on their own, but from what I can decipher (so far) of the documentation I am reading a lawyer will be needed (in my case).
I will (most likely) be setting this up for my son, however, this only needs to be in place by the time he turns 18 (I think). My friend has promised to give me a further tutorial on what he has gone through (and it does not sound like a cheap process either). I make the not cheap comment due to the comment in the Statutory Guardian documentation:
The Public Guardian and Trustee charges a fee of $382.00 plus HST of $49.66 for processing an application for statutory guardianship, under the authority of s.8 of the Public Guardian and Trustee Act.
This article is a “heads up” for those parents out there who might have had the same assumptions I had about Power of Attorney, I will be writing more about this topic as I learn about it (I suspect I might even bend the ear of a few of my Financial Blogging associates to get me through all of this).
If you have set up an RDSP for your loved one, this guardianship is also very important, as estate planning (for everyone involved), as well.
- “Guardian of Property” website from the Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario.
- Becoming a Guardian another Government of Ontario Website.
- www.e-laws.gov.on.ca All the laws for the Province of Ontario
- www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca. This is the website for the Ministry of the Attorney General. It includes bulletins and background about power of attorney, guardianship, the Public Guardian and Trustee and related matters. It also includes copies of the various forms needed to file an application to replace this office.