Special Needs Planning

Guardianship for an Adult Disabled Child

Protect Your Child’s Future with Help from Natasha Meruelo, Attorney at Law

If you have an adult child with an intellectual or developmental disability, you may be worried about their future. While still a minor, you can care for them and ensure that they have a stable, comfortable life. However, once your child reaches adulthood, ensuring that they continue to enjoy financial stability while also being able to access the care and help they need to thrive can become more complicated. This is why many families look to establish legal guardianships for their disabled adult children. 

At Natasha Meruelo, Attorney at Law, we understand how important it is that your guardianship case go smoothly. We also know how overwhelming the legal process can be. Located in White Plains, our special needs guardianship lawyer is prepared to help you with your case today. 

Are you considering establishing guardianship for your adult special needs child? Contact our law firm for help by (914) 752-5098 or send us a message online.

Article 17A vs. Article 81 Guardianship

In New York, there are two types of guardianship: Article 17A and Article 81. Article 17A guardianship is a specific type of guardianship under New York law that is reserved for intellectually and/or developmentally disabled persons. According to § 1750 and § 1750-A, the courts may appoint a guardian over the person with intellectual or developmental disabilities, their property, or both when it is in that person’s best interests. Typically, Article 17A guardianship is for individuals whose disability originates before they have reached the age of 22. 

Meanwhile, Article 81 guardianship is most often used for adults who have become incapacitated in some way, such as someone who has Alzheimer’s or elderly individuals with dementia. Before granting guardianship under Article 81, a judge will determine if the individual cannot care for themselves or their property and if they are “likely to suffer harm because they cannot understand the consequences of not being able to care for” themselves or their property. 

Once appointed, guardians can manage the property and/or personal needs of the disabled or incapacitated individual as outlined in the guardianship order. This can include making decisions regarding the individual’s healthcare and living arrangements. The guardian may also be able to enter contracts on behalf of the disabled or incapacitated individual, apply for government benefits, manage their assets and estate, and even access confidential records. Because the guardian has so much control over the life of the disabled individual, courts take awarding guardianships very seriously.

What Our Clients Are Saying!

“Natasha Meruelo is professional, knowledgable and a solid attorney. She made sure I was well informed, prepared, and empowered throughout the court process. Having her support was invaluable. I am so grateful I followed my intuition and chose her to represent me. I highly recommend her!”

Are There Other Options?

Guardianship is a serious responsibility, and it significantly impacts the life of the disabled individual. Most often, guardianship is the best choice for low-functioning individuals who need extensive help taking care of themselves. It is not appropriate for every person with a disability. There are many cases where the individual could use some extra assistance and oversight but does not need to be placed under full guardianship. In these situations, there are several less restrictive options. 

Other legal remedies may include: 

  • Health care proxy
  • Power of attorney 
  • Supplemental needs trusts 

A health care proxy is a legal document that allows the designated individual (the health care agent) to make medical decisions for the disabled person (the principal). This can be a great option for high-functioning individuals, allowing them to retain some control over these important decisions while allowing their designated health care agent (often a parent or other loved one) input. Meanwhile, a power of attorney allows a designated individual to make financial and legal decisions for the principal. 

Supplemental needs trusts are also incredibly important when providing for your special needs child into adulthood. Sometimes also referred to as special need trusts, they allow loved ones to provide financial assistance to your child without affecting their eligibility for important government benefits. They can also be a way to protect inheritances, settlements or other money your child may come into over the course of their life.

Caring, Compassionate Guidance from an Experienced Lawyer 

Whether you want to establish a guardianship or explore other options for supporting your adult disabled child, it is recommended that you work with an attorney experienced in these types of cases. Natasha Meruelo, Attorney at Law understands what you are going through and has the knowledge and skill to help you determine which legal options are best for you and your child. When you work with our White Plains law firm to establish a special needs guardianship, you can rest assured that you and your family member’s best interests are being put first. 

To schedule a confidential consultation with us, call our office at (914) 752-5098 or contact us online. 

Frequently Asked Bankruptcy Questions

  • Bankruptcy is a legal process in which you ask the Bankruptcy Court to grant you relief from your debts. Once begun, the bankruptcy process can reverse the downward spiral of negative credit information piling up and get you on the path of taking control of your finances.

    Some of the benefits of bankruptcy include:

    • Immediately halting creditor harassment
    • Discharging credit card and other unsecured debts
    • Preventing wage garnishment and money being taken from your bank accounts
    • Lowering your income-to-debt ratio
    • Eliminating tax consequences of discharged debt
    • Possibly preventing foreclosure of your home or repossession of your car
  • The truth is most debt consolidation companies do not have your best interests at heart and often will make your debt problems worse. Frequently, clients have come to me after paying these companies hundreds of dollars with the same or more debt than they had when they first began that process.

    Many times, when you are negotiating settlements or working with a debt consolidator, you may end up getting sued by your creditors because they do not defend these lawsuits for you. Additionally, you may find yourself dealing with 1099-c tax liability for the amount of money that was "forgiven" as a result of the settlement. Imagine thinking you resolved one of your debts but are now smacked with an IRS tax bill that comes straight out of your refund, or worse, that is a bill you now owe to the IRS!

    On the other hand, debts discharged in bankruptcy are not taxable income. While it is true that filing for bankruptcy is not great for your credit, debt consolidation can have a far more devastating impact because it only delays debt payments, not resolve them. If you stop paying your bills, creditors can still report you to credit reporting agencies unless you are protected by a legal declaration of bankruptcy. Bankruptcy gives you real and immediate protection from your creditors.

  • Unfortunately, obtaining a loan modification is far from straightforward. Did you know there are more than six different types of loan modifications, each with their own complex requirements? Additionally, there are quite a few factors that influence what type of a loan modification you will ultimately be eligible for, such as your income, the costs of your property taxes and insurance (escrow), and the amount of your delinquency.

    If you are seeking to change the terms of your current mortgage, a skilled and knowledgeable lawyer can help you navigate the maze of mortgage modification. As an experienced White Plains consumer defense attorney, I can provide the strategic counsel you need to successfully guide you through the process.

    My bank refuses to modify my mortgage. Can I do it on my own?
    If you are one of the many New Yorkers who own a mixed-use property, you may be able to modify your mortgage even if your bank has previously refused to do so. A common example is a multiple family home which serves as both a primary residence and rental property. If you are upside down in your mortgage payments, filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy may allow you to cram down your mortgage to your home's current market value. Once a more reasonable interest rate is applied to the existing balance, you may be able to pay off your mortgage quicker than you ever anticipated.

  • The right bankruptcy option depends on your unique situation. In order to obtain a discharge of your debts, you need to take an honest assessment of what assets you own or may have owned but no longer own, what debts you owe, your income and expenses, and what your past financial dealings have been like. Once you have a complete picture of your circumstances, you and your bankruptcy attorney can decide whether filing for Chapter 7, Chapter 11, or Chapter 13 would be suitable for you.

Contact Natasha Meruelo, Attorney at Law

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