Those living in New York with a family member who has a developmental disability already likely know about the special considerations involved in caring for someone with a disability. Even with excellent support in place, those with developmental disabilities may not ever be able to provide for their own daily self-care or live truly independently.
In certain circumstances, such as when a developmentally disabled person has strong opinions, they may have wishes or desires that aren’t in their own long-term best interests. To ensure careful consideration for medical, financial and educational decisions, it may be necessary for you to seek guardianship of someone with a developmental disability when they reach the age of 18.
A guardianship allows you to handle all of the affairs of your loved one if they are unable to do so for themselves. For guardianships related to adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities, the guardian will assume the same authorities as a parent would. They can manage financial decisions, as well as medical and educational ones, on behalf of the adult with a developmental disability.
New York has a special guardianship program for developmentally disabled adults
New York recognizes that there is more than one situation in which family members may have to seek guardianship of an adult. Sometimes, taking steps to legally protect your loved one from their own diminished capacity is necessary due to cognitive decline as they age.
However, some people never have or lose the ability to engage independent, adult decision-making due to their condition. Under the special Article 17-A guardianship program, individuals can ask the courts to name a guardian for developmentally disabled adults, as well as those with intellectual disabilities and those who suffer cognitive consequences from a traumatic brain injury.
An inheritance or similar financial windfall could be a reason to seek guardianship
Those with serious developmental disabilities may not be able to plan carefully for their future or truly consider the consequences of their decisions, but they may do well on their own with oversight and support. Still, circumstances could arise that leave them vulnerable.
If your developmentally disabled loved one suddenly inherits a large amount of money, for example, they could make the unfortunate mistake of squandering their inheritance rapidly on a number of unnecessary purchases. They could also wind up the target of unscrupulous individuals who might attempt to get close to them to access to their financial resources.
Assuming guardianship helps you protect a loved one from both their own financial mistakes and the potential malicious actions of other individuals. Doing so may cause some temporary consternation and stress, but in the long term, it may be what is best for you and the person you love.