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Guardianship

Transitions Planning

What is Guardianship?

Our guardianship program helps families apply for guardianship and is available to answer questions from anyone residing in Westchester County concerning guardianship.

If no family member is available to serve as guardian, Arc of Westchester as the local agent of New York State ARC (NYSARC, Inc.), can serve as guardian. We have dedicated guardian staff to advocate for the individual, to oversee services and to visit with the individual.

For family members who wish to become guardians, educational programs concerning futures planning and guardianship are provided, as is technical assistance in completing and filing petitions with the Surrogate’s Court. When NYSARC, through Arc of Westchester, is to serve as guardian, a staff member is assigned to visit regularly and advocate for the individual’s needs.

A volunteer committee of concerned parents and professionals oversees the guardianship program. Fees, while applicable, will not preclude the rendering of services to individuals or families with a demonstrated inability to pay.

Why do I need Guardianship

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.

A responsible guardian offers protection and support to vulnerable individuals by making decisions that harmonize with the individual's values and preferences, and to ensure respect for the individual's basic human rights, as well as access to benefits and entitlements.

How do I get Guardianship?

Securing Guardianship for a disabled person is a legal proceeding which takes place in the Surrogate's Court of the proposed wards' county of residence and designates a parent, sibling, other relative, friend, or organization to act on behalf of an individual with intellectual and other developmental disabilities.

In order for a Court to appoint a guardian, it must be satisfied that the guardianship is necessary and in the best interest of the person with intellectual and other developmental disabilities. Certifications by one licensed physician and one licensed psychologist or two licensed physicians, one of which has experience working with individuals with developmental disabilities, who are familiar with the care and treatment of the individual are required when filing a petition for guardianship.

Guardianship Toolbox

Documents

About Guardianship (PDF)

Helpful Tips

  1. Guardianship determination should be COMPLETE by the time an individual is 18 years old. Allow at least 6 to 8 months for the guardianship process to be completed.
  2. Guardianship is based on an individual's capacity. For some individuals who may be higher functioning, an Article 81 form of Guardianship may be appropriate.
  3. The guardianship process is complicated. Working with qualified legal counsel or an agency like Arc of Westchester that is knowledgeable in these issues is highly recommended.

Need More Help?

Arc of Westchester's Navigation Team is here for you. For more information on how Arc of Westchester can work with you on these many Transitions Issues, contact Carol Gearing of the Arc of Westchester at (914) 495-4620 or by email at cgearing@arcwestchester.org.