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What is Guardianship?

Guardianship is a legal arrangement where a court gives a person the legal right to make decisions for another person who is unable to make decisions for themselves. Depending on the type of guardianship asked for and the person over whom guardianship is requested, the case is handled by the Family Court, the Supreme Court or the Surrogate’s Court.

Guardianship of a Child

A child is a person who is 17 years old or younger, not married or in military service. The guardianship lasts until the child turns 18 years old and can be over the child’s “person” and/or the child’s “property”.

Guardianship of An Incapacitated Adult

An Incapacitated Person (AIP) is an adult (older than 18 years of age) and needs help to care for their personal needs or manage their property or financial affairs. This is beneficial in circumstances where there isn’t a power of attorney and/or Medicaid is needed. This kind of guardianship case is brought in the Supreme Court under Article 81.

Guardianship of an Intellectually Disabled or Developmentally Disabled Person

If a person is “intellectually disabled or developmentally disabled” and has difficulty making decisions for themselves, an Article 17-A petition can be brought in the Surrogate’s Court.

Guardians Ad Litem

In some cases, a Judge will assign a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) to help a person during a court case to protect their rights and interests.

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