Actions Prior to Age 18: Secure Article 17-A Guardianship
Article 17-A Guardianship is an important tool available to a parent of an intellectually or developmentally disabled child
As your child with an intellectual or developmental disability approaches 18 years of age, you should give serious consideration to seeking an Article 17-A Guardianship on behalf of your child. My choice of words is deliberate because appointment of an Article 17-A Guardian is limited to those individuals with an “intellectual” or “developmental” disability as defined in the New York Statute, and does not apply to other types of a disability. An Article 17-A Guardianship is granted after a Court proceeding is started upon notice to those individuals close to and significant in the life of your child. The proceeding is “diagnosis driven;” that is, it is granted upon the certification of two doctors that your child has one of the two named disabilities. The Court papers will ask the doctors whether your child has the capacity to make health care decisions for him or herself. If the doctors determine that your child “lacks capacity,” then it will authorize you, as Article 17-A Guardian, to make health care decisions on your child’s behalf. The power granted to you as an Article 17-A Guardian in the life of your child after he or she has attained age eighteen is very similar to the authority you exercised over the life of your child during his or her first eighteen years. An Article 17-A Guardianship continues during the lifetime of your child, so it is important that you ask the Court to appoint a standby Guardian to serve if you die or become disabled.