When you live in New York and have a loved one with an intellectual or developmental disability, you may question that individual’s ability to make sound decisions regarding his or her own medical care, financial situation and other personal affairs. In some cases, you may question whether your loved one might need something called Article 17-A guardianship. This is a special type of guardianship intended for individuals who are at least 18 and have one of any number of different intellectual or developmental disabilities.
Per the New York State Unified Court System, a surrogate court judge appoints an Article 17-A guardian. The guardian then works to protect the interests of the party with the intellectual or developmental disability.
Who may need an Article 17-A guardianship
Many individuals who have Article 17-A guardians have autism, Down syndrome or another type of intellectual or developmental disability. If your loved one has cerebral palsy or epilepsy, this may warrant this type of guardianship. The same holds true if he or she experienced a traumatic head injury, a traumatic brain injury or some other type of neurological impairment.
What the 17-A guardianship does
An Article 17-A guardian may make financial medical or personal decisions on another party’s behalf. The guardian may become the guardian of the person, meaning he or she makes decisions regarding health care and general safety. Or, he or she may become the guardian of the property, which grants the guardian powers with regard to the individual with a disability’s finances and assets.
Because guardianships do strip away some of your loved one’s rights, it may serve you well to consider possible alternatives before moving forward with establishing one.