In New York State, parents of persons with intellectual and other developmental disabilities are considered the natural guardians of their children until their eighteenth (18) birthday. After a person reaches 18 years of age, he or she is assumed to be a legally competent adult and able to manage his or her own affairs.

Guardianship is a planning alternative that enables parents and relatives to ensure that they, or others that they designate, may act as advocates with legal authority and maximize all necessary and available supports and resources for the benefit of their family member who may require some level of assistance in managing their personal and/or financial affairs. Legal guardianship cannot be granted from, or specified in, a will.

Primarily, guardians are family, friends and other relatives. In extenuating circumstances, the courts can appoint an organization such as The Arc Allegany-Steuben as guardian, through The Arc New York’s Corporate Guardianship Program. This offers the assurance that future decisions are made in the best interest of the individual in harmony with their values and preferences, as a concerned family member would do.