Most people with disabilities can manage their own affairs with the help and advice of someone they trust and who does not need a tutor. There are many alternatives to guardianship that help people with disabilities make decisions without depriving them of their rights. During the 84th Texas legislative session in 2015, lawmakers passed new laws that make Texas the first state to have laws recognizing supported decision-making agreements as an alternative to guardianship. Read this News Article from Disability Rights Texas to learn more about sustained decision-making. A power of attorney gives another person the power to make decisions and deal with cases without any intervention from the individual. A sustained decision-making agreement does not give the supporter decision-making power. The person with a disability reserves the right to make decisions for themselves. A sustained decision-making agreement could be used in combination with other alternatives to guardianship, such as powers and agents. The use of other alternatives to guardianship, with a sustained decision-making agreement, should be compatible with the objective of promoting the self-determination of the disabled person and avoiding full guardianship.
In a sustained decision-making agreement, the person chooses someone (called a “supporter”) whom they trust to help them get the information they need to make an informed decision, consider their options, understand the risks and communicate their decisions to others. The state does not limit who can become supporters. As a general rule, support can be a family member, relative or friend. But the adult with a disability can only enter into a sustained decision-making agreement on a voluntary basis, without being influenced by others. The agreement does not require legal or court advice. It does not allow a supporter to make decisions for the person or act for him or her. Both parties keep a copy of the agreement and hand it over if necessary. If they decide to use a lawyer, the lawyer can also keep a copy. You can help your child make decisions throughout their life by helping them get information about a situation and learn more about the decisions they might make.
If your adult child still needs help making decisions, you can also reach a clear and informed decision agreement with them in writing. In 2015, Texas was the first state to recognize a sustained decision-making agreement as a legal document for an adult with disabilities or special health needs. Even in the absence of legal agreement, you can use a sustained decision-making approach in everyday life to help your child make decisions. And if you start involving your child in decisions about his or her life when he is younger, it might be easier to do so if he is an adult. In a sustained decision-making agreement, the supporter of a person with a disability can help: supported decision-making agreements as sustained decision-making agreements are gaining momentum and the most recent government laws are likely to serve as models for future legislation, it is important to assess whether these laws are effective in promoting sustained decisions – and helping people with disabilities make their own decisions.