Article 17 Guardianships
Sometimes upon the death of a loved one, an infant may be entitled to a substantial sum of money. Whether it was left to the infant as a result of a Last Will and Testament, or through a personal injury action, an infant (someone under the age of 18), will not simply be given a check for that sum of that money. A guardianship account must be opened for the infant child with the court jointly holding the assets. This allows the court to ensure that the money is used for the infant’s best interest until he or she reaches the age of majority. At that point, the money may be discharged to the now adult child.
Article 17A Guardianships
A natural parent of a child has guardianship of the child by virtue of being a parent until the age of 18. However, once an infant attains the age of 18, New York automatically assumes that individual can make decisions for him or herself. The situation becomes problematic when that adult child is under a developmental disability and can not make decisions for themselves. It is of paramount importance to have a 17A guardianship in place so that a parent can make health and financial decisions for the child under a disability.
Parents or family members should consider a guardianship if their child has a disability that makes decision making difficult. For example, a child whose mental abilities are similar to those of a 5 year old and who has difficulty communicating basic wants and needs would probably be a good candidate for an Article 17A Guardianship.
It is a good idea to commence a 17A guardianship prior to that child turning 18 because the process can be lengthy, but more importantly, because a parent would want that in place in case a situation arises when a medical decision has to be made. If the child has already attained the age of majority, then the parent can no longer make medical decisions on the child’s behalf.