How To Proceed When A Loved One Needs A Guardian

Guardianship (Article 17) - Child under the age of 18 and receiving over $10,000

A legal guardian has the same power as a parent to make decisions for the child. A child may need a legal guardian if the parent is unavailable. For example, the parent dies, is in military service and abroad, was deported but the child remains in the U.S., or is too sick to take care of the child and can't make decisions for the child anymore.

If a child receives money of over $10,000 from someone who has died, life insurance, personal injury settlement, or some other way, a petition for guardianship of the "property" must be filed in Surrogate's Court. The guardian of the property, usually a parent, safeguards the money until the child turns 18 years old. The funds are jointly controlled by the Court and the guardian and no money can be taken out without a court order.

The proceeding is commenced by the filing of a petition and supporting documents with the Court. FORMS are available at the Court or can be downloaded from this website.


Guardianship (Article 17A) - Intellectually\Developmentally Disabled

In New York State, when a person becomes 18 years old they are assumed to be legally competent to make decision for themselves. This means no other person is allowed to make a personal, medical or financial decision for that individual. If a person is "intellectually disabled or developmentally disabled," as legal defined in SCPA 17-A, has difficulty making decisions for themselves and over 18 years old, you can ask the Surrogate's Court to appoint a guardian for him or her. The Surrogate's Court can appoint a guardian of the person, the property or both. An Article 17-A Guardianship is very broad and covers most decisions that are usually made by a parent for a child such as financial and healthcare decisions.

The proceeding is commenced by filing a petition and supporting documents with the Court. FORMS are available at the Court or can be downloaded from this website. Additionally, New York State Unified Court System’s CourtHelp offers a Do It Yourself Program for unrepresented litigants at


Guardianship (Article 81) - Incapacitated Adult

An Incapacitated Person (AIP) is someone who needs some help to care for themselves or manage their property or financial affairs. This kind of guardianship case is brought in Supreme Court or County Court under Article 81 of the Mental Hygiene Law.

An Article 81 Guardianship is very individualized and specific to what decisions are made by the guardian and what decisions are made by the person with the disability. The Judge will appoint a court evaluator. As the eyes and ears of the Court, the court evaluator will meet with the possible incapacitated individual, investigate and report whether or not a guardian should be appointed and, if so, what powers the guardian should have. The Court will always hold a hearing. Generally, it is best if a lawyer handles this kind of guardianship case. Broome County Surrogate’s Court does not handle these proceedings. Please contact the Supreme Court or County Court for more information.