Parents are the natural guardians of their children until they turn 18. After that, a person is presumed to be a legally competent adult. Being a legally competent adult, a person is presumed to have the capacity to manage their own medical and financial affairs. Therefore, a parent of an intellectually or developmentally disabled child will have to consider what options they have available to them if they would like to continue to make decisions on behalf of their disabled child after the child has turned 18.
A guardian will be appointed for a person who is older than 18, where that person does not possess the cognitive, communicative or educational capacity of an adult. Because the person is unable to make their own decisions or handle their medical and financial affairs, the guardian is appointed to make those decisions on the persons behalf. In New York, if you are seeking to become guardian for a person who is over eighteen, you must petition the court to be appointed a legal guardian.
Before the Court appoints a guardian, you will have to present sufficient evidence that the guardianship will be in the best interests of the person and that the guardianship is necessary for the individuals well being. The Court will want certifications from physicians and psychologists who are familiar with the patient and have knowledge of treating developmentally disabled patients.
Once it has been determined that the guardianship is in the best interests of the individual and the guardian has been appointed, the appointment will last for the lifetime of the individual or until the Court terminates the guardianship. While acting as Guardian, a person has certain duties he or she must perform. These duties vary depending on the type of guardianship sought, but require a high duty of care.
To discuss your role as Guardian, call the Law Offices of Albert Gurevich at (212) 233-1233.