At Davis & Pledl S.C. we specialize in ...
Supported decision-making, powers of attorney, limited/full guardianships
Guardianship termination, modification, family member visitation
Special education, 504 plans, discipline, expulsion
PK-12 and post-secondary disability accommodations
Disability, gender, and sexual orientation discrimination in housing, education & public services
Group home zoning disputes
Treatment, placement & services for high needs children and adults
Abuse and neglect in facilities and community programs
Wills, special needs trusts, advanced directives
General probate, probate litigation
Minor guardianship, divorce, custody/placement, grandparents rights
Care planning for children and adults with disabilities
Guardianship & Alternatives
When you or someone you know needs help making important decisions affecting your day to day life, there are options. We represent individuals and families for the full range of decision-making options available to the elderly and people with disabilities, including:
Skip to guardianship alternatives
Guardianship is a legal process that removes certain rights from an individual, and transfers certain rights from that individual to another individual. Rights that can be removed in full are the right to vote, serve on a jury, or execute a will. Other rights that can either be removed or exercised only with guardian consent are: the right to marry, the right to consent to organ donation, the right to apply for licenses (driving, hunting, fishing, or professional licenses), and the right to consent to sterilization.
There are two types of guardianships:
Guardianship of the Person
A guardian of the person is responsible for making important decisions for an individual such as their medical treatment, medication management, social services, education, employment, housing, and more. This is the most common type of guardianship, whether for young adults with disabilities reaching adulthood, or for elderly individuals with dementia or other conditions.
Guardianship of the Estate
A guardian of the estate is responsible for making financial decisions for an individual - managing their income and assets, providing for their care, and making sound decisions with their property. The guardian of the estate is responsible for any contracts that bind the individual - including public benefits application and recertification.
Full vs. Limited Guardianship
A guardianship does not have to be "all or nothing." It can be individually tailored to allow the person to retain the most rights possible, and to maintain a voice or input on important decisions.
Guardianship - Special Issues
Every individual is unique - and so is their guardianship case. Some routine legal procedures become more complex when a guardianship is in place. We represent guardianship clients for:
• Real Estate Sales
• Special needs trust establishment
• Temporary Guardianships
• Modifying or terminating a guardianship
• Protective Placement When an individual under guardianship needs care in certain settings, such as a skilled nursing facility, a Protective Placement is necessary. We help families obtain protective placements for their loved ones. We also represent individuals challenging their need for protective placement, or attempting to move to a less restrictive setting.
Contested Guardianship Matters
• Family Disputes Unfortunately, sometimes family members cannot agree on who should serve as guardian for an individual who needs help making decisions. Other times, there are disputes about who should be allowed to see the individual and when.
We represent families in cases involving guardianship or visitation disputes using all available resolution options, including mediation and traditional litigation.
• Need for Guardianship We have successfully represented individuals who challenge their need for guardianship. We work with clients to help them retain their independence in the least restrictive manner possible.
A new option in Wisconsin, supported decision-making allows for a person with a disability to direct their own decision-making while retaining their rights. These agreements can allow a "supporter" to assist with decisions about education, health care, finances, and more - while allowing the person to maintain control over their own affairs. The "supporter" does just that - supports - and does not have the authority to make decisions in place of the person, to access their records independently, or to weigh in on decisions that the person has not authorized. This tool does not involve court oversight.
We can also help families navigate informal supported-decision making options.
Powers of Attorney
Every adult who is able should have a health care and financial power of attorney in place. These tools are voluntary, can be changed or revoked at any time, do not require court involvement or oversight, and are instrumental in avoiding the need for guardianship.
A Health Care Power of Attorney authorizes another person to make health care decisions in the event you are unable to do so on your own. These documents cover important topics like admission to long term care facilities and the provision of feeding tubes.
A Financial or Durable Power of Attorney covers important aspects of financial life such as banking, making payments and purchases, insurance, and more - but can also cover things like care for pets and digital assets.
Davis & Pledl represents students with and without disabilities at all levels of education from age three through college and graduate school.
Special Education Students who have qualified under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) can access a menu of special services in public schools. IDEA services can begin as early as age 3 and may continue until age 21. We represent families throughout the special education process. We work with families to resolve a variety of IDEA issues:
• Whether a student is eligible for special education
• What kind of educational services a student receives
• Whether a student needs a less restrictive or more intensive learning environment
• Whether a student needs additional services to support their education
• Whether a student's behavior must be addressed in the special education process rather than the school discipline system
• Whether a district must pay for the student's placement is a private school
• Whether the school is doing enough to transition the student to post-high school life
We address special education issues from the IDEA eligibility process through development of an effective IEP. If there are disagreements that cannot be resolved with the IEP Team, we also represent families in mediations, due process hearings and Federal court actions.
Section 504 K-12 students with disabilities that do not qualify under IDEA may be eligible for services under another Federal law - Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. A student with no special learning needs who uses a wheelchair is covered by Section 504. A student with emotional behavioral issues who does not qualify under IDEA may be covered. Section 504 also applies to day care provided at the school as well as private day care centers. We represent families throughout the process to develop Section 504 plans as well as in litigation resulting from the failure to provide appropriate disability accommodations.
School Discipline Students both with and without disabilities can encounter in-school and out-of-school suspensions, and may even face expulsion. Given the complexity of a school board hearing and the permanent consequences of an expulsion, families should consult a lawyer. Students with disabilities have additional legal rights in the discipline process and we frequently help families identify emotional and psychological disabilities that have not been addressed by the school system. We get involved in all levels of the school discipline process:
• Meeting with school officials to resolve disciplinary problems without a hearing
• Identifying disabilities and then developing IDEA or Section 504 plans to deal with behavioral issues and keep students out of the discipline system
• Representing students at school board expulsion hearings
Harassment, Bullying and Sexual Assault Students at all levels of education are protected from discrimination by the Federal Title IX statute or other laws. Treating a student or students differently based on their sex, sexual orientation or other characteristics like race is discrimination. This includes transgender students. The most severe form of sex discrimination is sexual assault by another student or by school staff.
When students report harassment, bullying or assaults, the school must investigate, and should also take various steps to minimize harm during the investigation process. We represent victims at all stages of the complaint process and in court litigation when a school fails to respond appropriately.
Disabilities in Post-Secondary Education The right to receive special education services ends at high school graduation, but students continue to be protected by Section 504 when they attend technical schools, colleges and post-graduate programs. Post-secondary schools are required to provide reasonable accommodations that allow students with disabilities to access those educational programs. A student may need legal help to:
• Verify the need for disability accommodations
• Advocate for testing accommodations for ACT, LSAT and others
• Develop an appropriate plan with the school disability accommodation office
• Resolve or litigate issues regarding the provision of accommodations
We have nearly 50 years of combined experience successfully litigating a variety of civil rights issues -
State and federal laws protect people with disabilities from discrimination in work, school, and public services. We represent people with disabilities to ensure they receive appropriate accommodations.
We help people with disabilities by handling cases including:
• Bullying & Harassment
• Patients' Rights
• Reasonable accommodations (public & private settings)
• Group home zoning disputes
• Neglect & abuse of people with disabilities
We represent individuals using the protections afforded to them under:
• Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
• Rehabilitation Act
• Fair Housing Act
• Section 1983
• Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
Sex, Sexual Orientation & Gender Expression Discrimination
Title IX and other federal laws offer protections against discrimination based upon your sex, sexual orientation, or gender expression. Atty. Pledl has represented plaintiffs in cases involving:
• Transgender Rights in schools and in healthcare
• LGBTQ bullying, harassment & assault
• Sexual harassment, including sexual abuse and assault
• Pregnancy or family status discrimination
Federal and state civil rights laws provide protections against housing discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, disability, religion, sex, familial status or national origin. This includes protections against discriminatory practices in selling, renting, or interfering with housing rights based on any of these factors.
Disability Services for Children Many children with special needs require additional support outside of the school setting. Getting those supports can involve county agencies, Autism treatment providers, respite providers and other similar programs. Each program will have special requirements and client's rights procedures.
Parents often encounter obstacles and may need legal representation to get appropriate services, especially if their child has significant disabilities or behavioral needs. Parents often discover that even if they do arrange appropriate services for these children when they are younger, those programs no longer meet the child's needs when they enter adolescence. We provide the following legal representation to families:
• Participation in planning meetings to acquire appropriate services.
• Initiating Children's Court proceedings to obtain court-ordered treatment or residential placement.
• Representation in grievances and administrative appeals.
Transition Planning This term is often used in special education programs to signify the school's role in preparing the student for life after high school, but transition also includes services outside of the school setting. Students can access DVR services, Family Care or IRIS and other resources while they are still in high school. It is possible to receive services from multiple programs at the same time, but legal assistance is often needed. Also, many parents do not realize that they can be excluded from the planning process when the student turns 18. We can help with:
• Coordination between school and disability service programs.
• Advocating for high-quality vocational services
• Investigating the need for guardianship or decision-making alternatives.
Adult Disability Services At age 18, Wisconsin residents who require certain disability services become eligible for the Family Care and IRIS programs. Anyone may apply by contacting the Aging and Disability Resource Center in their county. However, individuals with significant and/or low incidence disabilities may encounter obstacles to receiving appropriate services. We have extensive experience with Family Care including two Federal court cases involving residential rates for higher need individuals. We can assist you with:
• Advocacy for appropriate services within the planning process
• Grievances and administrative appeals
• Addressing concerns about the quality of Family Care/IRIS services.
Estate Planning & Probate
Every adult should have a plan for what will happen to their assets after they are gone, and how their affairs will be managed during their lives if they are unable to continue doing so on their own. We help families to set up:
• Wills and Trusts
• Powers of Attorney
• Living Wills
• Proper handling of non-probate assets
Special Needs Trusts
Self-funded: We help individuals with disabilities establish a self-settled special needs trust to ensure their public benefits are protected. We can help you protect your benefits if you will be receiving money that will put you over the asset limit for public benefits, like:
• Back pay
• Worker's compensation settlement
• Personal injury lawsuit settlement
Third party: When you have a child with disabilities, your estate plan can involve planning for the rest of your child’s life, after you are gone. We help families set up special needs trusts to ensure their children are provided for when they are gone and their public benefits are protected.
When a loved one passes away, it's a difficult time emotionally. However, administering the estate can be a complicated process. We are here to help. We handle all aspects of estate administration, including probate litigation.
We represent families through the probate process. If you have been named the executor or personal representative of an estate, or if someone you love has passed away without a will, give us a call.
Guardianship estates: We represent guardians to handle complicated estate issues, such as business and real estate sales, divorce, and other sensitive financial matters.
Attorney Davis Dávila also serves as guardian of the estate for individuals, especially when there has been fraud or neglect in administering the estate by a previous guardian.
When a child's parents are unable to serve in the traditional parent role, other adults can step in to ensure that the child is receiving the care and support they need.
Setting up a Minor Guardianship
We represent grandparents and other family members to obtain guardianship over the children they love in situations where the parents have passed away, are struggling with alcohol or other drug issues, are incarcerated, or otherwise unable to care for their children. We handle uncontested cases (where the parents agree) and contested matters (where one or both parents does not agree). We will fight to ensure the children you love are getting the care they need.
Ending a Minor Guardianship
We represent parents whose children are under guardianship for whatever reason - voluntary or involuntary - who wish to regain custody and control over their child's life. We have successfully reunited parents with their children, even after years of guardianship.
If your circumstances have changed and you are ready to terminate your child's guardianship, call us to help you navigate the complicated legal process.
Going through a divorce can be the most difficult time of your life. We are here to help you through the complicated legal process. We use both alternative dispute resolution and litigation to resolve your case. We represent clients in family law matters including:
• Legal separation
• Property division
• Maintenance (also known as alimony)
• Child custody
• Child support
Child Custody and Support
Children are the most important parties in any family law matter. We support our clients in matters of:
• Custody - who is making important decisions about the child
• Placement - also known as visitation - where is the child going to spend his or her time?
• Modifications - something changed in our lives since our last court date
• Child support issues
• Paternity matters
Special Needs: When one of the spouses or a child has special needs, a routine family law matter can become more complicated. We represent clients with special needs or who have children with special needs to ensure the family court considers and understands the issues unique to your family.