Under New York State law, two types of guardianships may be available for the management of another person’s affairs, namely, Article 17-A Guardianships under the Surrogate Court Procedure Act (SCPA”) and Article 81 Guardianships under the Mental Hygiene Law (“MHL”).

The Albany-based guardianship attorneys at Pierro, Connor & Strauss represent and assist clients in these matters. We help to determine whether a guardian should be appointed to manage the affairs of an individual who is intellectually and/or developmentally disabled and unable to make their own decisions. The procedures for the appointment of guardianship under Article 17-A can be particularly challenging.

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What is Article 17-A?

Guardianships under SCPA Article 17-A are specific to individuals who are mentally or developmentally disabled. Before a guardian is appointed to manage the individual’s affairs, either two physicians or a physician and a licensed psychologist must certify that the disability is the result of:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Epilepsy
  • Neurological impairment
  • Autism
  • Traumatic head injury
  • Some other conditions which resulted in measurable impairment of intellectual functions or adaptive behavior

Article 17-A guardianships are available after a mentally disabled person reaches the age of 18. Their caregivers initiate the guardianship request by filing an Article 17-A Petition in the New York State Surrogate Court.

When will the Surrogate Court grant an Article 17-A Guardianship?

After an Article 17-A petition is filed, a court investigation is conducted to verify the certification of the grounds for the appointment of a guardian. This would include establishing the person’s qualifications to act as a guardian and the powers that the guardian will have over the mentally disabled person’s affairs.

The court will conduct a hearing if there are objections to the guardianship or the appointment of the person designated as the proposed guardian in the petition. If the disabled person has income or assets, the guardian will receive control over those assets subject to the court’s approval. If there are no assets, the guardian’s powers will be limited to that individual’s personal matters.

How is an Article 17-A Guardianship different from an Article 81 Guardianship?

A petition for guardianship under Article 81 will sometimes be submitted on behalf of a mentally disabled person. However, these guardianships are frequently requested for elderly persons and other adults who, for reasons of trauma or disease, have a reduced ability to manage their financial and personal affairs.

In addition, petitions for an Article 81 guardianship are assessed under more complex requirements that include, in particular, a review of the petition by an independent court-appointed evaluator. On the other hand, article 17-A proceedings are simpler, but in some cases have been challenged as sacrificing the protections and personal rights of a mentally disabled person. This is another reason why it’s necessary to hire a guardianship attorney who is experienced and skilled at advocating for a client.

Contact the Guardianship Attorneys for Assistance with Preparing and Filing an Article 17-A Guardianship Petition

The Article 17-A guardianship attorneys at Pierro, Connors, & Strauss, LLC have offices in Albany, Schenectady, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Greene Counties, and New York City. We represent families who want to continue caring for adult mentally disabled family members through Article 17-A guardianships.

Please contact any of our offices to confer with a lawyer about how we can assist you in preparing and filing a guardianship petition on behalf of a mentally disabled person in your family.

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