How to Start a Guardianship Case for an Intellectually or Developmentally Disabled Person (Article 17-A Guardianship Case)

To start a 17-A guardianship case, the petitioner (a parent or any interested person who is 18 years old or older, including an authorized corporation) must go to the Surrogate Court located in the county where the intellectually or developmentally disabled person resides. See the Court Locator box on this page to find out which court to go to. Then the petitioner must complete the steps listed below.

  1. File the following legal forms:

    • Article 17-A Guardianship petition
      A petition is a legal written request asking the court to start a case.
    • Combined Oath and Designation or Combined Corporate Consent and Designation
    • Affidavit of the proposed guardian
    • Affidavit (certification) of Examining Physician or Licensed Psychologist and/or the Affirmation (certification) of Examining Physician
      Note:The petitioner can have either one physician and one psychologist complete the certification form or two physicians complete the form. This certification must confirm 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. Some courts may require additional medical documentation as well as the possibility of having to submit an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and/ or an Individualized Service Plan (ISP) for the respondent. The Surrogate Court clerk will inform the petitioner if these additional forms are needed.
    • Waiver of Process Renunciation Consent to Appointment of Guardian
      This legal form must be completed by any person who is closely related to the intellectually or developmentally disabled person (the respondent) who could also apply to become a guardian. These people are often called interested parties. For example, a second parent who is not seeking to be guardian or the siblings of the respondent, if above the age of 18, could be considered interested parties because they could legally seek to become the respondent’s guardian, if they wanted to. By completing the waiver, the interested party is stating that they do not object to the proposed guardianship or the person asking to be appointed as guardian. If the interested party does object, they should not complete this form. Instead, they must either appear in court on date listed on the citation (see 17-A Guardianship Citation below) or email the court using the email address listed on the citation and state that they object to the guardianship.
    • Consent, Oath and Designation
      This legal form must be completed, signed and notarized by the individual who is seeking to be appointed as the 17-A Guardian as well as the Standby, First Alternate, or Second Alternate guardian. Standby, First Alternate, and Second Alternate guardians are individuals who are willing to step in and become the appointed 17-A guardian if something happens to the existing guardian.
    • Notice of Petition
    • Affidavit of Mailing of Notice of Petition
    • 17-A Guardianship Citation
      A citation is a legal form that either the court will complete or, if the petitioner uses the Do-it-Yourself (DIY) DIY Program, the Program will complete for the petitioner. The purpose of this form is to notify interested parties of the guardianship case and give them the opportunity to appear in court on the day of the hearing (if there is a hearing).

    To obtain the forms listed above, see Guardianship 17-A Petition or contact the Surrogate Court and ask that they be mailed. Once the forms have been completed, the petitioner may be able to file a guardianship petition either in person or over the internet using the EDDS system. To see if the electronic filing option is available, check the e-filing County List or contact the E-Filing Resource Center.

  2. Pay the Filing Fees
    The petitioner must pay a fee to start a guardianship case. However, they may qualify for a waiver. For more information, see Filing Fees and Fee Waiver.
  3. Serve the citation on all interested parties
    Service means an interested person is given proper notice of the proceeding. Service can take different forms depending on where someone lives. If in New York, service has to be made by physically handing someone the citation ten days before the court date. If the interested person lives outside New York, but somewhere in the United States, then service can be made by mailing the citation. For more information on how to serve a person, see How Legal Papers are Delivered.

Important Note: Completing the forms listed above can be overwhelming. To obtain help the petitioner can:

Each case is different. If there is any information missing or unclear, the court will contact the petitioner.

If the petitioner does not have all the information needed to complete the legal forms listed above, it is important to file the forms that can be completed and begin collecting information to complete the rest of the forms at a later date. For example, the petitioner may need additional time to collect the following information and documents:

  • The respondent’s original birth certificate or a certified birth certificate
  • The respondent’s residential history for the past 28 years (to be used to complete the 3909 form)
  • Two physician certifications or one physician certification and one psychologist certification
  • The respondent’s IEP or ISP

The petitioner should begin collecting any missing information as soon as possible so that they are ready to provide it when the court contacts them.


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