Once your child turns 18, you are no longer the legal guardian, and your child is considered to be emancipated – an adult capable of acting in his/her self-interest, regardless of any intellectual or developmental disability. If you feel your child does not have the necessary understanding to make informed decisions, you may seek legal guardianship.


A few facts about Guardianship:

  • Guardianship cannot be established in a will.
  • The Court must appoint a guardian.This appointment is done through a court proceeding held in the County Surrogate Court. 
  • Although not required by law, most parents or relatives use the services of an attorney to help them obtain guardianship.
  • Without a legal guardian, your child or relative with developmental disabilities may encounter difficulties obtaining medical treatment and /or accessing social services.
  • If your disabled child/relative does not have a guardian, then he/she will be legally obligated for all financial obligations, regardless of his/her ability to pay them.
  • Parents, siblings, other family members, or any interested party can be an appropriate and effective guardian for an adult with disabilities.

As a guardian, you are responsible for the rights, interests and desires of the adult with developmental disabilities and all aspects of his or her life. Your powers as a guardian, though not specifically enumerated, are at least as broad as those of parents to a minor child.


NYSARC Guardianship Program

An individual with an intellectual or developmental disability is usually cared for by a family member, but as the guardian ages it may become increasingly difficult to care for someone with multiple needs. , The Arc of Ulster-Greene’s Guardianship Committee, serving as the Ulster and Greene Counties chapter of NYSARC, Inc., can take on the role of guardian. This assures that there is always someone authorized to make critical decisions that are in the person’s best interest.


Any adult with an intellectual or developmental disability who resides in Ulster or Greene counties is eligible to receive our Guardianship services.  In the event you are not yet ready to have us take over as guardian, you can appoint The Arc of Ulster-Greene as the Stand-By Guardian. If the primary guardian is unable to perform his/her duties, we will then assume the role of guardian and care for your loved one.


The Guardianship Program is overseen by a volunteer committee of concerned parents, professionals and staff members.