The Law & The Adulthood Of The Mentally Disabled


Local attorney Marcy Robinson Dembs says she has noticed that there is some real confusion about when a mentally disabled person is treated like an adult.

Marcy appeared on 7 News at Noon to discuss the law.

She said most people, especially parents, think that their ability to make decisions for their disabled child continues forever because the child is disabled, but it does not.

The law presumes that an adult, (18 years in NYS) is an adult, regardless of the person's capacity and until the court appoints someone to manage the disabled person's financial and personal affairs, the disabled person is in control.

Marcy said this can lead to big problems.

For example, on the disabled person's 18th birthday, his banking information is confidential, as are his medical files.

In some, or most, instances, the parent no longer has the right to accept or deny medical services for the adult/child. 

(There are statutes which make exceptions for family members to act in extreme circumstances, but they are not to be relied on in normal circumstances.) 

Marcy said the solution is that the family members of a disabled person go to Surrogate's Court and petition the court to be appointed the guardian of the disabled person's person and/or property so on his 18th birthday, there is no gap in assistance the family can provide.    

Click on the picture to watch her interview.

Saturday, December 3, 2016
, Watertown, NY

On Demand

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