For many New Yorkers, future planning must include strategies to protect those who are unable to protect themselves. This can be a complicated as many are completely unaware of what steps need to be taken to ensure that a vulnerable loved one is fully shielded from risks they are neither prepared for nor equipped to deal with. Some of the most at-risk people are those who are intellectually or developmentally disabled.

When there is a loved one who is intellectually or developmentally disabled, there are concerns as to what will happen to them in the future when they become adults and those who are responsible for caring for them when they are children might not be around to continue doing so or need the legal authority for it. For those 18 or older who fall into these categories, their possible inability to make competent decisions for themselves can leave them in danger. When this is the case, it is possible to request a guardianship through the Surrogate’s Court.

For there to be a guardianship, the person must be intellectually or developmentally disabled. To show this to be the case, there must be a certification from one each of a physician and a psychologist or two physicians. This will be filed with a petition to certify that the person does not have the ability to manage his or her own affairs. It can be due to the above issues or a traumatic brain injury. Once this is completed, a guardian can be appointed. The person’s property, the person or both can be covered by the guardianship.

The decisions that a guardian makes are not unlike those a parent makes on behalf of children under 18. That can cover finances and healthcare. When there is a concern about a loved one who might need a guardianship for any reason whether it is due to the person being intellectually or developmentally disabled or if they are elderly, having legal assistance with a law firm that understands guardianships, estate planning and other areas of the law is key.