My son is 17 years old, turning 18 at the end of July. In mid-May, he was hospitalized for two weeks when he became floridly psychotic -- his first episode. As he recovers post-hospitalization, I want to get some sort of guardianship in place so that I can step in and manage his healthcare and finances if he's unable to. I don't know, however, what kinds of options there are; I've heard the terms "healthcare proxy" and "power of attorney", but I haven't wrapped my brain around what those encompass, or what it would entail to apply for these things. One person says I need a good lawyer; another says I just need to get a boilerplate form from Staples and get it notarized. I'm in Massachusetts -- Boston/Cambridge/MetroWest. Hope me please!
posted by anonymous to law & government (25 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
My son, upon release, was given a sort of placeholder diagnosis: "schizoaffective disorder", manifesting as bipolar on the manic side of the bipolar scale. The meds he's been on for the past month (risperidone & divalproex) are slowly gaining traction. I have plenty of support structures in place to help transition him into his new life: he has a therapist and a psychiatrist; he's enrolled in a day program for the next couple of weeks; I'm also going to be assigned an Intensive Care Coordinator (ICC) in a few days to help me pull together a team of people that can provide him with other services, connect him back with the community-at-large, help me navigate the insurance labyrinth, provide me with a "family mentor" type (a parent who has had a kid go through the same stuff as I am), and so on. These are good, helpful things.
Special snowflake issues:
• Single parent. I gained physical custody of him about ten months ago, and I share legal custody with his mother, who lives 66 miles away. In a nutshell, the mother's not very reliable, and has mental health issues of her own, but is on board with the kid's treatments and has been working with and not against the flow. She is aware that I intend to file for sole guardianship, and in all probability won't block me from doing so. We are civil to one another, but I am trying to maintain firm social boundaries, as interacting with her stresses me out.
• I'm currently renewing his MassHealth benefits under his own name -- right now he's covered in conjunction with his mom, who is on MassHealth for her various illnesses; MassHealth sent him a renewal notice independently of her; I am handling the renewal. He's also covered under my Blue Cross & Blue Shield insurance, so MassHealth is/will be the safety net for anything my BCBS won't cover. (MassHealth, via Network Health, is what's responsible for covering the day program, the ICC, the hospitalization, the psychiatrist & therapist, etc.)
I know I have a lot to deal with, but I'm handling it well, psychologically. My workplace is understanding of my needs, and luckily this all is happening during a slow time of the year. (I work in academia; summertime is when everyone flees the campus.) My son's school is giving him plenty of room to recover, and has eliminated any deadlines by which he'll need to submit work in order to graduate. My friends and family have been supportive and encouraging, and I have found and attended a NAMI-affiliated support group so that I can gain perspective and insight.
But as far as the guardianship, since I have about six weeks before he turns eighteen, I want to get this squared away toot sweet. How important is this to take care of, and why? How can I frame this to my son so that he understands the need for me to file for guardianship, and gives me his consent? (Is this necessary, given his day-to-day status of being connected to reality?) Can the ICC help me with this? Can something like this be fast-tracked? Do I need a lawyer? Can you recommend one to me? (If you would like to recommend a lawyer, or convey other information to me off-thread, one of the mods said they'd relay it to me.) Thanks in advance for your help!