Ensuring the long-term care of people with developmental disabilities

Guardianship and Legal Services may be provided to individuals with developmental disabilities 18 years and older and their families from all five boroughs.

Assistance with obtaining Guardianship for a family member with a developmental disability who is 18 years and older is available to individuals from all five boroughs, as is assistance with future care planning. Assistance with legal issues that may arise related to a family member with a developmental disability is also available on a limited basis.

About Article 17-A Guardianship

Guardianship is a legal process by which the Surrogate’s Court, pursuant to Article 17-A of the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act, appoints a person or agency to make decisions for a person with an intellectual or developmental disability who is over the age of 18.  It also allows for the appointment of standby and alternate standby guardians.

Guardianship is appropriate for a person with an intellectual or developmental disability who is deemed by two qualified professionals to be legally incapable of managing his/her own affairs, specifically concerning daily living, health care, residential, and/or financial decision-making.


Types of Guardianship

Guardianship for the person and property are two different types of guardianship. You can petition for guardianship of the person, the property, or both.


Responsibilities of the Guardian

Guardianship of the person gives the guardian the legal power to make decision about daily life, health care, and where the ward lives.

Guardianship of the property gives the guardian the legal power to decide what to do with the ward’s personal and real property and income.  Guardianship of the property also requires the guardian to file annual reports about the ward’s property.


What happens when a primary guardian can no longer perform as guardian?

In the event that the primary guardian, through incapacity, death, or resignation, is no longer able to serve as primary guardian, the designated standby guardian can immediately assume the duties of the guardian. However, within 180 days the standby guardian must file a petition seeking confirmation from the Surrogate’s Court of the successor guardian status. When the standby guardian is no longer able to serve as guardian, the alternate standby guardian can similarly assume the duties of the guardian.


What if there is no one who can serve as guardian?

In cases of last resort, NYSARC, Inc. may be available to serve as primary, standby, or alternate standby guardian. In order to have NYSARC, Inc. serve as guardian, you must apply and be approved by both AHRC New York City and NYSARC. (Applications are available through the Legal Services Unit of AHRC New York City.)


Petitioning for guardianship without an attorney

A guardianship petition can be obtained from your county Surrogate’s Court Guardianship Department. After completing the petition, it must be filed along with the original birth certificate of the ward and nominal filing fee payable to the Court. Fingerprinting and a court appearance on the return date assigned by the Court may be required. Be aware that the Surrogate’s Court may schedule a hearing at which the proposed primary guardian(s) and/or ward must appear. Generally, the guardianship process may take 6 months up to a year to complete.


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