What is a developmental disability?

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Both Michigan and Indiana have the same definition of what constitutes a developmental disability. In broad terms, it concerns individuals who are diagnosed with severe intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism, or mental retardation before reaching the age of 22 that will likely continue into the future and limits that person’s ability to function in major life activities. But Michigan and Indiana handle how a guardianship is established for such individuals in very different methods.

In Michigan, the Department of Health and Human Services provides many services for those who have developmental disabilities. These services are provided based on the presumption that these individuals will improve in function if provided with sufficient services. Because these services are provided in Michigan, but not Indiana, experience has shown that Michigan developmental disability cases are more expensive to execute in time and money than in Indiana.

In Michigan, a developmental disability guardianship is established under the mental health code, not the probate code. You can’t allege incapacity; the case would be dismissed. A special physician must be hired to evaluate the individual physically, mentally, socially, and the person’s education is considered. Furthermore, the evaluating physician must be present in the courtroom to testify on the date of the hearing. Additionally, the hearing to establish the guardian must take place within a year after the individual was evaluated.

In Indiana, the term “developmental disability” is within the probate code and included in the definition of “incapacity.” You don’t need to have physician present at hearing to testify. Your family physician is fine, and he or she can simply fill out a very broad report form for the Court.

If you know you need legal help, please call our us to determine if we are the right firm for you. We are well-versed in the intricacies associated with establishing a guardianship for a person with developmental disabilities. Our staff is friendly, helpful, and here for you.*

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