Guardianship, Special-Needs Trusts In New York Should Be Considered When Caring For Those With Disabilities

As we begin 2011, we encourage you to take special care in planning for the welfare of a child with special needs. Consulting a New York City guardianship attorney is a great way to bring peace of mind to the issue of caring for a child or adult-child in your absence.

In other cases, a New York Article 81 Guardianship proceeding can assist in caring for an older loved one who is no longer able to manage their affairs.
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One aspect that is often overlooked is the need to provide for the care of such dependents in your New York estate plans. Leaving an estate to a loved one can prevent them from collecting state or federal aid. Life insurance proceeds can lead to the same unwanted result. Establishing a special-needs trust is one option that will ensure the long-term care of a loved one in your absence.

When a child with disabilities reaches the age of maturity, a parent or loved one may petition for guardianship under Article 17A of the New York Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act. More than 280,000 people in New York are believed to have mental retardation and another 24,000 have cerebral palsy. The New York State Mental Hygiene Law defines mental disability as:

-Attributed to mental retardation, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, neurological impairment, autism or other closely related condition.

-Originates before a person reaches the age of 22 and has continued or is expected to continue indefinitely.

-Constitutes a substantial handicap.

Once such guardianship is established, you will be able to continue to assist an adult child with special needs in whatever capacity is necessary. However, caring for them after your departure will still require sound estate planning, including a special needs trust or a supplemental needs trust. These investment vehicles will permit your estate to go toward the care of a loved one with special needs without jeopardizing government benefits, Medicaid or other assistance.


New York City Probate Attorney Jules Martin Haas handles all types of probate cases, including Wills, estate planning, estate settlement, advanced directives and guardianship matters. Please call me at (212) 355-2575 for a free consultation to discuss your rights.

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