The Impact of Guardianship on the Rights of Adults with Developmental Disabilities: A Case Study

Abstract: 

One framework of human rights equates rights to needs and ranks them via Maslow’s hierarchy. Using this framework, the current study outlines how guardianship may facilitate basic human and legal rights. The study examines a single case, composed of a guardian, a nonverbal ward, and the legal institutions that established guardianship. Data include court records, as well as guardian interviews and questionnaires. Results include the motivation for pursuing guardianship, the state of the ward's rights, and the impact that guardianship had on the welfare and independence of the ward. Results show that, in this case, guardianship had a minimal impact on rights. Findings imply that there may be limitations in the ability of guardianship to facilitate rights under a Maslowian framework.

Table of Contents: 

    Introduction

    Many adults with developmental disabilities have a legal guardian established to secure third-party control over some or all of their rights. This case study assumes that the basic rights of any individual include the right to welfare and the right to independence. Guardianship is legally established to foster independence and safeguard welfare. However, the details of how this is achieved in individual cases are largely unexplored. A modified case study methodology is used first, to explore how guardianship of an adult with developmental disabilities fosters the independence and safeguards the welfare of that individual and, second, to explore the limits of these protections in a real-life context.

    Background

    Framework of Human Rights Used in This Study

    Human rights can be correlated to human needs (Schultz, 1996). In practical terms, this means that an individual has the right to have her needs satisfied. Schultz’s understanding of human needs comes from Maslow’s “hierarchy of prepotency:” the idea that human motivation is determined by a definable list of hierarchically organized needs. When lower-order needs are satisfied, it triggers the person to seek a higher-order need (Maslow, 1943). The five categories of human needs identified by Maslow, from lowest to highest, are: physiological, safety, love, esteem, and self-actualization.

    It is often assumed that adults with developmental disabilities have “special needs” and that their needs are different from those individuals without disabilities. However, “special needs” may be a misnomer. The needs of adults with developmental disabilities are not “special” in the sense that they are “higher or different”; rather “the FACILITATION of their needs may demand difference” (Schultz, 1996, p. 276). Thus, all humans have the same needs, though adults with developmental disabilities may sometimes require facilitation to fulfill those needs.

    In what order of importance should we facilitate the rights of adults with developmental disabilities? The current study will assume that, because rights are correlated with needs, human rights can be placed on a hierarchy, just as their corresponding needs have been arranged hierarchically by Maslow. Physiological needs correlate with rights such as proper nutrition and toileting. Safety needs correlate with rights such as sanitation, medical treatment without discrimination, absence of abuse and restraints, and the right to refuse treatment. Love needs correlate with rights such as free communication and social interaction, and legal, educational, and political power. Esteem needs correlate with rights such as courtesy, least intrusive treatment, privacy, ownership, the selection of an advocate, managing one’s own finances, confidentiality, and the ability to voice grievances. Finally, self-actualization needs correlate with rights such as religious freedom and the opportunity to develop one’s human potential in order to pursue a meaningful vocation (Schultz, 1996). For parsimony of analysis in this study, Maslow’s hierarchy has been subdivided into categories of welfare needs (which are physiological-, safety-, or love-related) and independence needs (primarily esteem- and self-actualization-related, but also some love-related). In this way, the more basic rights are those of welfare, meaning that they must first be satisfied before the rights to independence are given focus.

    Application of terminology in this study. This study uses rights and needs as equivalent terms and assumes that all people have the right to have their needs met. Welfare refers to the more basic categories of human rights and needs, while independence refers to higher-order rights and needs. Facilitation is the term used for the ways in which the needs of adults with developmental disabilities are fulfilled by their caretakers. Guardianship is used to refer only to guardianship of the person, not guardianship of the estate.

    Guardianship Is Intended to Facilitate Basic Human Rights

    The purpose of guardianship is established in the Texas Probate Code, explicitly mentioning the categories of human rights in the previously established framework, i.e. welfare and independence. Welfare is safeguarded through guardianship in the state’s requirement that “a court may appoint a guardian. . .only as necessary to promote and protect the well-being of the person” (Schultz, 1996, p. 277). Given that this is the only circumstance in which guardianship may be legally established, guardianship is intended to facilitate the right to welfare. Independence is fostered through guardianship in the state’s requirement that “. . . the guardianship [shall develop]. . . independence in the incapacitated person” (Probate Code, Chapter 13, section 602, until 2014). This requirement is general enough to assert that guardians must foster the independence of their wards. Most decisions made by guardians have welfare and independence components. For example, giving consent for a medical procedure can safeguard the welfare of a ward, but if the ward does not desire the procedure, it can be a necessary inhibition of independence. Similarly, providing housing to an adult who cannot supply their own shelter is an issue of welfare, but allowing an adult to decide where to live can foster independence.

    Legal Primer on Guardianship

    Defining the two types of guardianship. There are two types of guardianship for adults with developmental disabilities, differing only in the number of rights retained by the ward: full and partial. Plenary, or full guardianship, involves a guardian assuming the responsibility for the adult with developmental disabilities in all decision making, including decisions about welfare, such as medical issues, travel, spending, potential court actions, education, housing, general care, training, and psychological service. A full guardian is also tasked with assisting the ward in development of self-reliance (Millar, 2003). Of the total number of alleged wards in Millar’s study, 90% were placed under plenary guardianship for an indefinite term (Millar 2003).

    Partial guardianship is the assignment of a guardian to assist the adult with developmental disabilities with one or more, but not all, of the previously described responsibilities (Millar, 2003). Notably, partial guardianship must be the first consideration under disability law (Payne-Christiansen & Sitlington, 2008). This means that before anyone can be declared the full guardian of an adult with developmental disabilities, the potential of ensuring the rights of that individual with only a partial guardian or without a guardian must be considered. Specifically, the Texas probate code requires that “a court investigator . . . determine whether a less restrictive alternative than guardianship is appropriate” (Probate Code, Chapter 13, section 602, until 2014).

    Both full and limited guardians have no minimum qualifications. They are required to submit annual reports regarding the ward’s conditions, and they cannot be held liable for actions taken with regard to guardianship. The preferences of the ward should be taken into consideration in selecting a guardian (Millar, 2003).

    How guardianship is legally established. Guardianship procedures begin with a petitioner requesting a guardian for the alleged ward. (“Alleged ward” is the term used by the courts for the adult with developmental disabilities before a guardian has been assigned.) Adjoining the petition is a report containing information regarding the ward’s type of developmental disability; current evaluations of social, educational, and physical skills; a justification of why guardianship is needed; and a recommendation for a rehabilitative plan and living arrangement. Following the submission of the petition, notice of the initiation of the proceedings is given to all participants, including the ward. At this point, the alleged ward has the right to have the proceedings presided over by a jury, to confront and cross-examine witnesses, to close the hearing, to attend all hearings, and to be evaluated independently (Millar, 2003). The alleged ward may also contest the guardianship. When guardianship is contested in Denton County, Texas (the location of the current study), it usually pertains to the scope of the guardianship arrangement. The need for guardianship or who the guardian shall be is rarely contested (Missy Rainey, personal communication, March 12, 2010).

    During the actual hearing, the court must “inquire into . . . the extent of alleged ward’s intellectual functioning,” “determine the extent of alleged ward’s impairment,” “determine the capacity of alleged ward to manage his/her estate and financial affairs,” and “determine the least restrictive living arrangement” for the alleged ward (Millar, 2003, p. 382). In Texas, the probate court investigator requires and seeks certain pieces of evidence to support the guardianship. This evidence can include the physician’s letter, a determination of mental retardation (DMR), a full individual evaluation (FIE) provided by the school, a psychiatric report (if the alleged ward has one available), and the individualized education plan (IEP) provided by the school (Missy Rainey, personal communication, March 12, 2010).

    How local parents are informed about guardianship. In Denton County, information about guardianship is disseminated in several ways to potential guardians. Local independent school districts (ISDs) begin preparing parents for the guardianship process in middle school. Early in the process, the information that ISDs provide essentially indicates that guardianship is necessary for students in special education. This kind of information is generally given through admission, review, and dismissal (ARD) meetings. Transition fairs allow the greatest amount of information to be transmitted to the potential guardians. Groups and individuals that are typically present at these fairs in Denton County include the probate court investigator and an accompanying lawyer, Mental Health and Mental Retardation services, estate planners, social security representatives, North Central Texas Community College representatives, direct care services from the county, and an advocacy group for adults with developmental disabilities (Missy Rainey, personal communication, March 12, 2010).

    Specific legal rights that can be removed under guardianship. It is important to understand that “depending on state statutes and [the] extent of authority given to the guardian, the ward may lose many legal and civil rights” when guardianship is established (Millar, 2003, p. 382). A physician’s capacity assessment is a key factor in determining what rights will be retained by the alleged ward, given that it specifically lists what capacity the adult with developmental disabilities has to exercise his or her independence. In Texas, these civil rights include getting married or entering military service. The legal rights are primarily financial, such as entering contracts or making housing and employment decisions (“Capacity assessment”).

    Limits on Guardianship’s Ability to Facilitate Rights

    Right to welfare. The issue has been raised that “just because a guardian is appointed, it is not going to completely protect the person” (Millar, 2003, p. 382). To improve the welfare of adults with developmental disabilities under guardianship, “video tapes, formal trainings . . . and manuals can provide assistance to guardians with reference to their responsibilities and available community resources” (Millar, 2003, p. 394). In Texas, new guardians are given literature from the National Guardianship Association. Also, a training class can be assigned to the new guardian. This is typically done if the judge believes that an individual could make a good guardian after receiving more information (Missy Rainey, personal communication, March 12, 2010).

    The probate court has a set path of responses for cases of guardians judged to be inadequately safeguarding the welfare of their wards. These cases are usually brought to the attention of the probate court by a care provider, who indicates that communication with the guardian is difficult. Typically, status conferences are called in which probate court representatives discuss the problems seen. This process can result in more services, e.g. transportation for the ward and guardian, or the reappointment of an attorney ad litem for the ward. If status conferences are repeatedly ignored or if the problems are not solved, the probate court can “show cause,” which may lead to removal of the guardian’s authority. In extreme cases, the court can use removal without notice (Missy Rainey, personal communication, March 12, 2010).

    Right to independence in establishing guardianship. In guardianship proceedings, forms must adequately supply what the legal codes require. Evidence to support guardianship may be in the form of foster placement and medical reports, psychological and standardized testing, or the alleged ward’s individualized education plan. However, the execution of these principles is sometimes incomplete. In Michigan, “the Mental Health Code states that ‘the facts and reasons for the need for guardianship’ along with a ‘factual description of the nature and extent of the ward’s developmental disability’ are needed on the petition, yet the form does not provide such specific questions” (Millar, 2003, p. 390).

    Another important factor concerns the thoroughness of court proceedings. In 14% of the cases studied by Millar, the ward was not appointed an attorney ad litem for the proceedings, even though this is an explicit right of an adult with developmental disabilities in guardianship proceedings. Also, in each case that the alleged ward specified a desired guardian, the same guardian was specified by the petitioner (Millar, 2003). The reason that the alleged ward is allowed to specify his or her desired guardian is to allow the individual to disagree with the desires of the petitioner. Without this opportunity to disagree, the true desires of the alleged ward cannot be known. Some attorneys contacted by parents seeking guardianship are unfamiliar with the topic, leaving them unable to give an appropriate referral. Advice from attorneys is, at times, influenced by what parents want to hear (Missy Rainey, personal communication, March 12, 2010).

    The effectiveness of guardianship in aiding the independence of adults with developmental disabilities also has been called into question. The evidence of mental incompetence may be a starting point for the guardian to move the ward toward independence, because it lists skills that the ward lacks in order to live independently. Results from some case studies suggest that the evidence is not used in this manner (Millar, 2003).

    At times, guardians over-step legally established boundaries. In some case studies, partial guardians take over responsibilities left to the ward by the guardianship proceedings. This was evident in financial reporting by partial guardians who were not financially responsible for their wards (Millar, 2003). This calls into question the distinction between partial and plenary guardianship. If guardians over-step the legally established boundaries between themselves and their wards, the legal requirement for the consideration of partial guardianship is unfulfilled.

    A guardianship arrangement can be changed if independence is excessively inhibited or when an individual has a recovery of intellect, which is not a typical occurrence for adults with developmental disabilities. Legal modifications that give more rights to the ward (e.g., reinstating the right to chose employment or residence) occur approximately 5% of the time. Full restorations of the rights of the ward are rare and usually occur in cases where the ward recovers from traumatic brain injury. One social worker, serving as the probate court investigator for guardianship cases, has seen roughly two restorations and six modifications in an 8 year career (Missy Rainey personal communication, March 12, 2010).

    Right to independence while under guardianship. In one study of 76 individuals, it was found that the degree of control exercised by the guardian of a given adult with developmental disabilities is inversely proportional to the degree of self-determination by the individual (Stancliffe, 2000). In other words, a guardianship can typically foster independence only to the degree to which the guardianship is limited. This is an idea perhaps reflected in the Texas Probate Code, in which the mandate to foster independence in full guardianships is not explicit. The Probate Code says only that “in creating a guardianship, [with] . . . limited [emphasis added] . . . authority . . . the court shall design the guardianship to encourage the development . . . [of] independence” (Chapter 13, section 602, until 2014). However, according to Missy Rainey, both limited and full guardians in Denton County are required to develop their wards’ self reliance in the judge’s discretion (personal communication, March 12, 2010).

    In one case study of a guardianship proceeding that resulted in indefinite plenary guardianship, “no alternatives to guardianship were discussed with the parents” (Payne-Christiansen & Sitlington, 2008, p. 15). In the school systems, it appears that, at times, “full guardianship becomes the set path for every student,” as opposed to an individualized process (Payne-Christiansen & Sitlington, 2008, p. 17). This is because “assumptions about the need for guardianship or incompetence appeared to be based on perceptions of disability, the label of special needs” (Payne-Christiansen & Sitlington, 2008, p. 14). This is interesting because “special needs” is a misnomer–as mentioned previously (Schultz, 1996)–and may not show appropriate focus on the facilitation that guardianship allows.

    Questions and Key Issues

    The literature discusses how guardianship cannot always protect wards and how independence can be unnecessarily inhibited under and through the establishment of guardianship. It is the intention of this case study to use this background knowledge to explore how these issues interact with a specific case and the lives of the people involved. The questions include: Will this case concur with previously established analyses of guardianship, and what unknown factors not considered in the literature will impact a ward’s independence and welfare under this individual instance of guardianship?

    Methods

    Case Study Approach

    This study employs a modified case study methodology. A case study is “an empirical inquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context; especially when the boundaries between the phenomenon and context are not clearly evident.” This type of inquiry “copes with the technically distinctive situation in which there will be many more variables of interest than data points, and as one result relies on multiple sources of evidence, with data needing to converge in a triangulating fashion, and as another result benefits from the prior development of theoretical propositions to guide data collection and analysis” (Yin, 2003, pp. 13-14).

    Explanation of methodology modifications. A prototypical case study approach includes the use of multiple sources of evidence in order to highlight the converging variables of the case. These can include personal interviews, legal records, direct observation, and countless others. For purposes of feasibility, only two sources of evidence were used for this study, court records and a personal interview. However, these sources were judged to be maximally informative for the goals of the study.

    Description of research design of case studies. Yin describes five components of a case study: “a study’s questions, its propositions. . . , its unit(s) of analysis, the logic linking the data to the propositions, and the criteria for interpreting the findings” (Yin, 2003, p. 21).

    Case study design for the current study

    Question. How does guardianship impact the rights of individuals with developmental disabilities?

    Proposition. The welfare and independence of ward will be impacted by guardianship in ways not yet identified in the literature.

    Unit of analysis. The unit of analysis “define[s] what the ‘case’ is . . . .” Examples include “individual people, decisions, programs, the implementation process and organizational change” (Yin, 2003, p. 21). The unit of analysis in this study is the guardianship as it occurs between the participant guardian, the ward, and the legal institutions which established the guardianship. In this way, the perspective taken in this analysis is both familial and legalistic.

    Logic linking data to propositions. The logic linking the data to propositions is found in the literature and Texas Probate Code. The data regarding independence and welfare taken in the interview and questionnaire is compared to the legal requirements of guardianship in the Texas Probate Code and the ethical parameters defined by Schultz regarding the framework of rights of adults with developmental disabilities.

    Criteria for interpreting the finding. These criteria are descriptive. The qualitative data obtained from the interview and court records are analyzed to discern the nature of the interaction between guardianship, welfare, and independence of the ward.

    Description of Practical Steps

    This case study was conducted via a semi-structured interview, questionnaire, and review of public court records. By investigating a single guardianship case, the study has established an in-depth understanding of the processes, frameworks, and results of guardianship in this example. The depth of investigation aids generalization of knowledge to other guardianship cases, but the primary purpose of this case study is to raise awareness for further issues for guardianship investigations. The interview was recorded on an audio tape for later review. Questions in the interview centered on the participant’s experience with the guardianship process, e.g., “what options other than plenary guardianship were discussed with you in this process?” The first review of public court records was conducted in order to better craft the interview questions, and a subsequent review after the interview provided greater detail. Additionally, audio recordings were orthographically transcribed in order to allow for a detailed analysis.

    Participant Recruitment

    Due to the personal nature and time commitment of the questionnaire and interview questions, recruiting a participant proved difficult. Two categories of contacts were used in recruitment, individuals who were acquainted with guardians and guardians themselves. The guardians’ acquaintances included an employer with Disability Services of the Southwest, a volunteer with ARC of Denton County, a director for a speech and hearing clinic, a supervisor at that clinic, a community advocate, the previously mentioned social worker, and a lawyer working in the field of guardianship. Out of the nine guardians contacted via these intermediaries, two could not participate due to time constraints, two declined due to the content of the study’s questions, one due to privacy concerns, and two did not respond. Two agreed to participate. One of these individuals is the participant described in the next section. Another was interviewed in order to supplement the first but could not be used as the participant because legal guardianship was not established in that case. Information from the second interview appears in the discussion.

    Details of the Unit of Analysis for the Current Study

    The participant guardian, pseudonym Samantha, was the divorced mother of an adult child with cerebral palsy and severe developmental disabilities. She lived in North Texas during the entire time period discussed in this study. She cared for her now-deceased son, pseudonym Jim, for the majority of his life. Samantha began to consider acquiring sole guardianship over her son due to personal and financial considerations, including a divorce and a financial trust left in her son’s name. Samantha’s divorce lawyer was the first individual to explicitly recommend guardianship for Jim. Her guardianship over him was acquired when Jim was age 19, in the early 1990s, approximately 20 years before the date of the current study. Plenary guardianship was established in a local county probate court, with the help of a local lawyer specializing in guardianship.

    The following information was gathered from Samantha. The ward was an overdue baby, delivered at nine and a half months via caesarean section after a long labor. He was anoxic for four and a half minutes during delivery, which was presumed to be the etiology of his developmental disability. He was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Jim’s first neurological testing occurred at a local children’s hospital, where his mother was informed that he might never be mobile. As a child, Jim received therapy from a speech and hearing clinical center and attended local public schools.

    According to his guardian, Jim’s development never progressed beyond that of a nine-month-old infant. He learned to crawl and remained nonverbal. Most of the therapy that Jim received was for the muscular problems associated with cerebral palsy. He transitioned out of the school systems into adulthood, primarily in the care of his mother. He moved to a day habilitation center with nursing care at age 26, after which he transitioned to another center focused on children’s care.

    While Jim resided at this center, a fire occurred. Jim subsequently died due to smoke inhalation at age 34.

    Results

    Why Guardianship Was Pursued

    The following are the reasons Samantha gave for pursuing guardianship. The first was the divorce proceedings initiated by her husband, Jim’s father. The second consideration, a financial one, was regarding a trust that had been given to Jim. Samantha intended to serve as an intermediary for Jim, between him and anyone (including her ex-husband) who wanted to take legal action, remove money from the trust, or make medical decisions for Jim.

    Jim’s Welfare

    Since Jim could not provide for any of his basic welfare needs (feeding, toileting, dressing, etc.), his care arrangements facilitated those needs. This happened directly through his guardian’s care and indirectly by her placing him in a nursing facility. Since Samantha’s financial situation changed in the divorce, it was necessary for her to go back to work. This caused her to seek nursing care for Jim. He spent his time at the nursing facilities playing with developmentally appropriate toys and stuffed animals and receiving some physical therapy. According to Samantha, Jim “woke up happy” and was a generally content person. No annual reports regarding Jim’s condition were available in the court records on his case.

    Jim’s Independence in Establishing Guardianship

    Samantha received no information from the school district regarding guardianship. She was informed only by her lawyer. The court appointed an attorney ad litem for Jim in the guardianship proceedings, but Samantha reports that she was largely unaware of this person’s participation in the process. There was no capacity assessment or any other form of evidence to prove Jim’s mental incompetence in the court records.

    Jim’s Independence While Under Guardianship

    Samantha indicated that Jim could not “come to a determination of something that would show independence.” In one nursing facility, the staff attempted to teach Jim to feed himself, but it was difficult to ensure that the food ended up in his mouth. Also, Jim often attempted to leave the facility he was placed in, but he was not allowed to leave due to concerns for his safety.

    Impact of Guardianship on Jim’s Rights

    Guardianship was not legally necessary for Jim’s care in his mother’s home, nor was it necessary for his placement in a nursing facility. Samantha mentioned that, as Jim’s guardian, she made a medical decision declining spinal surgery for him. Samantha stated that her sole guardianship kept Jim’s father from interfering in any medical, housing, or financial allocation decisions. However, Samantha indicated that her ex-husband was largely uninterested in these matters.

    Discussion

    Guardianship seemed to provide a peace of mind to Samantha regarding any hypothetical threats to Jim’s rights, including interference from her ex-husband. However, discerning a practical impact of guardianship on Jim’s human rights proves difficult, though the impact appears to have been limited. Evidence suggests that his human right to welfare was well facilitated, though this seemed to be primarily a function of his care arrangement, and not his guardianship arrangement, per se. Jim’s caretakers also strove to facilitate his human right to independence even though they seemed to be frustrated in their efforts. Learning self-feeding is an appropriate goal, but it can be difficult to achieve at Jim’s developmental level. Again, however, this attempt at facilitation of Jim’s independence appeared to be more associated with his care arrangement, because his status as a ward was not a significant factor associated with Jim’s independence.

    With regard to legal rights, guardianship changed Jim’s status, though probably not in a way he perceived. The plenary guardianship changed his legal rights to make medical decisions or handle his finances, but, as a nonverbal person, he was unlikely to make those decisions. Also, his legal right to annual reporting may have been technically unfulfilled; however, the absence of these reports and the lack of comment or follow-up by the probate court speak of their minimal practical value for this case.

    There may be limits to the facilitation of the full hierarchy of rights for adults like Jim, who have severe developmental disabilities. Under Schultz’s model, all rights demand facilitation for all humans, no matter what their disability status may be. However, how would esteem or self-actualization be meaningfully exercised in Jim’s case? Attempting to answer this question suggests that there were factors other than guardianship impacting Jim’s rights. A key factor may have been the extent of his disability. An adult in the developmental stage of an infant is not likely to be capable of exercising their rights in the same way as an adult with typical psychological development. Perhaps Schultz’s model needs to be modified to account for cases like Jim’s.

    These modifications would entail a reconsideration of how these rights would be exercised in an individual case. For example, encouraging Jim to engage in a vocation in order to exercise his right to self-actualization would not be a matter of facilitation, but rather, it would be a matter of forcing him. This kind of coercion would likely be detrimental to his welfare, which is a prepotent need. Taking the assumption that he has a need for self-actualization, the challenge is to define how self-actualization is realized in his particular case, which would require an accurate capacity assessment paired with Schultz’s model. A capacity assessment conducted by the appropriate experts enables the legal institutions surrounding guardianship to protect the full extent of an adult’s rights and empowers caretakers to strive to facilitate the rights of adults with developmental disabilities in a manner appropriate to those adults’ capabilities.

    The current study considered a case in which a ward was appropriately labeled as having developmental disabilities and had no verbal ability. Future studies should focus on cases in which the label of special needs is inappropriately applied and how this affects their human and legal rights. Also, future studies can be conducted on individuals under guardianship who have high verbal and mental capacities. Candi Yarborough, an adult with cerebral palsy living in companion care in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, is an example of the harm arising from an inaccurate capacity assessment. She is highly verbal, though she lacks the abilities to walk or speak due to physical disability. Candi protests the label of mental retardation that she still carries, as she has been successful in college, works as a disability advocate, and has traveled internationally (personal communication, April 21, 2010).

    References

    • Capacity assessment. (n.d.). Texas Guardianship Association. Retrieved from http://www.texasguardianship.org/documents/CapacityAssessmentAffidavit.pdf
    • Maslow, A. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review50, 370-396.
    • Millar, D. S. (2003). Age of majority, transfer of rights and guardianship: Considerations for families and educators. Education and Training in Developmental Disabilities38(4), 378-397.
    • Payne-Christiansen, E., & Sitlington, P. (2008). Guardianship: Its role in the transition process for students with developmental disabilities. Education and Training in Developmental Disabilities, 43(1), 3-19.
    • Probate Code, Chapter 13, Guardianship. (Effective until January 01, 2014). Texas Constitution and Statutes. Retrieved from http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/PB/htm/PB.XIII.htm
    • Schultz, G. (1996). Taxonomy of rights: A proposed classification system of rights for individuals with mental retardation or developmental disabilities. Journal of developmental and physical disabilities8(3), 275-283
    • Stancliffe, R., & Abery, B. (2000). Substitute decision-making and personal control: Implications for self-determination. Mental Retardation, 38(5), 407. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.
    • Yin, Robert. (2003). Case study research: design and methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.