This webinar took place on Wednesday, December 16 at 10:00 AM EST

In this STC Special Webinar, the Honorable Judge David Guy and Principal Court Attorney Justin Harby-Conforti discussed the nuances of the guardianship process, what to expect, and the resources available to you.

What is guardianship? Why is it important? Who can apply? Where do I begin?

A guardian is typically a family member, close friend, or advocate appointed by the court to make decisions for a loved one regarding health care, personal affairs, and financial matters. Becoming a guardian is a serious responsibility. If you are interested in guardianship, we encourage you to attend this informative webinar where you can receive first-hand guidance from Judge David Guy of Broome County, who has provided assistance with over 500 guardianship cases.


Meet the Speakers

Hon. David H. Guy

Judge Guy has served as Broome County Surrogate Court Judge since January 2011. Surrogate’s Court has jurisdiction over SCPA Art 17-A guardianships for individuals with developmental disabilities and TBI. Judge Guy also handles the Mental Hygiene Law Article 81 Guardianship matters in the Supreme Court throughout the 6th Judicial District. Judge Guy has presided over approximately 500 Art 81 and 200 Art 17-A guardianship matters.

Justin Harby-Conforti

Justin is the Principal Court Attorney for the Broome County Surrogate’s Court, serving as the Honorary David H. Guy’s law clerk since June 2017, assisting in handling Mental Hygiene Law Article 81 guardianship cases and various Surrogate’s Court matters. Prior to this position, Justin was a Senior Attorney for Mental Hygiene Legal Service (3rd Dept.), where he represented persons in need of guardians under MHL 81 and SCPA 17-A.

“Judge David Guy is awesome.
He was wonderful to work with for Nick’s guardianship. He even took time to meet Nick, talk to him, and ask us questions about him.”

Dave Cottrell

Father of Nick Cottrell, a recipient of STC services

Guardianship 101

What is Guardianship?

Guardianship is a legal arrangement where a court gives a person (“Guardian”) the legal right to make decisions for another person who is unable to make decisions for themselves such as a childan incapacitated adult, or someone who is developmentally disabled.

A guardian is typically a family member, a close friend or an advocate appointed by the court to make decisions for a loved one regarding health care, personal affairs, and financial matters. A guardian may assist the individual with paying bills, living arrangements, and medical treatment

Becoming a guardian is a serious responsibility. Typically, guardians are responsible for such tasks as:

  • Managing assets, debts and making other financial decisions
  • Consulting with the individual in need of a guardian on medical decisions (or making them outright)
  • Managing daily routines and living arrangements including assisting the individual with participation in community life
  • Assisting with public benefits advocacy
  • Ensuring an appropriate education for a child in school

Who can apply to be a guardian?

Anyone can apply to be a guardian if you are over the age of 18 and a legal resident or citizen of the United States.

What does the guardianship process look like?

For persons looking to obtain legal guardianship of an individual with intellectual or developmental disabilities who is 18 years of age or older, the process is completed through the county Surrogate Court and is often referred to as “17-A Guardianship”. 17-A Guardianship is very broad and covers most decisions that are usually made by a parent for a child such as financial and healthcare decisions.

A petition (application) to the surrogate court must be made certifying that the person has a disability and is not able to manage his or her affairs because of intellectual disability, developmental disability, or a traumatic head injury. A certification from one physician and one psychologist or two physicians must be filed with the petition. After the application is submitted a hearing is held before a judge. A guardianship for an individual with special needs is usually indefinite however if a situation changes, one can always petition the court to modify or terminate a guardianship.

Why is guardianship important?

In New York State, regardless of the severity of a disability, at the age of 18, an individual is legally considered a competent adult and capable of making educational, financial, and other decisions independently. If your loved one is unable to make these decisions independently due to an intellectual or developmental disability it is important to explore guardianship, so you have the legal authority to support them appropriately.  

How do I start?

Review the 17-A Guardianship Checklist.

To begin on your own you can use the DIY Forms program to make your petition or you can contact the Surrogate’s Court to request an “Article 17A Guardianship Packet”.

To begin the process with the support of an attorney please reach out to your Care Manager so they may assist you in finding an attorney in your area who specializes in guardianship.

Have more questions or want to learn more?

We encourage you to join our Guardianship Webinar on December 16, 10 am, which is open to all members and families. Speaking at this webinar will be Justin Harby-Conforti, Esq., Principle Court Attorney at Broome County Surrogate Court along with Honorable Judge David Guy, Broome County Surrogate Court Judge.