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Guardianship Laws in New York

Whether due to illness, injury, or other circumstances, people might find themselves incapacitated or otherwise unable to take care of themselves and in need of a guardian to manage their affairs. New York state guardianship laws are in place to provide a framework to deal with these situations. NY state guardianship laws can help protect vulnerable people by having the courts appoint someone to watch over and care for them.

Assuming a role as someone’s legal guardian is a heavy responsibility. Additionally, New York’s guardianship laws can be difficult to understand. If you need help filing a guardianship petition in New York, contact Chaves Perlowitz Luftig, LLP.

Our New York guardianship lawyers have extensive experience helping clients understand the relevant state laws. We also assist our clients with the guardianship process. No matter your situation, we have the knowledge, skill, and experience to help. Contact our office today for a free initial consultation.

Overview of NY Guardianship Laws

When someone applies to be the legal guardian for an incapacitated adult, they ask the courts for legal authority to look after the individual (usually referred to as the guardian’s “ward”) and make important decisions on their behalf.

Adults are generally only appointed a guardian if an injury or illness makes them physically or mentally unable to care for themselves and make important decisions. Adults may also have a guardian appointed if they’re developmentally or intellectually disabled.

There are two basic types of guardianship cases for adults in New York:

  • Guardianship for intellectually or developmentally disabled adultsArticle 17-A of the New York Code of Laws says the courts may appoint a guardian for an adult with intellectual or developmental disabilities if the adult needs help caring for their personal needs or finances. The disabled adult must either consent to have a guardian appointed or be deemed incapacitated by the courts. Under Article 17-A, interested parties can apply for guardianship over someone’s property, the person, or both.
  • Guardianship for incapacitated adults — If an adult who previously took care of themselves suffers a debilitating illness or injury and becomes incapacitated, the court can appoint a guardian for them under Article 81 of the New York Code of Laws. For example, a person may ask for legal guardianship in NY under Article 81 if their loved one suffers from a degenerative neurological disease, such as Alzheimer’s, or suffers a head injury and falls into a coma. This type of guardianship can give the guardian relatively broad or narrow authority, depending on their ward’s needs.

When applying to be a guardian for an incapacitated adult, you’ll need to file certain documents with the courts. Depending on the type of guardianship, you will need some or all of the following documents:

  • Petition for Appointment of Guardian (Property)
  • Petition for Appointment of Guardian of Person Only
  • A letter from a medical professional certifying that an adult is physically incapacitated and needs a guardian or a letter from a psychiatrist or psychologist certifying that someone is mentally incapacitated and needs a guardian
  • Medical records for the person who needs a guardian

If the guardianship is approved, the court grants authority to the guardian that is appropriate to satisfy their ward’s needs, which may include powers related to the ward’s person or estate. The guardianship is tailored and limited to only those activities that the ward needs assistance with.

If you need help understanding New York’s guardianship laws or filling out the necessary forms to be appointed someone’s guardian, talk to a guardianship lawyer in NY from Chaves Perlowitz Luftig, LLP.

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Who Can Be Appointed as a Guardian in New York?

When appointing a guardian for an incapacitated adult, the state court system says that anyone over 18 can serve as an adult’s guardian. A social services agency or other institution can also serve as the guardian for an incapacitated or intellectually disabled adult. However, nominees of the ward, the person petitioning the court, and family members are usually given preference when determining who should be appointed a guardian.

What Are the Duties and Responsibilities of a Guardian?

The duties and responsibilities of a guardian will depend on the nature of their guardianship and the capabilities of their ward. These potential duties and responsibilities include:

  • Taking care of their ward’s medical needs
  • Managing their ward’s finances and estate
  • Making financial decisions on their ward’s behalf
  • Helping their ward with daily routines and activities
  • Helping apply for public benefits on their ward’s behalf
  • Submitting annual reports and other required documents to the court to keep it apprised of the ward’s status

The Link Between Guardianship and Estate Planning

One way to smooth out any potential guardianship issues is to make certain provisions in your estate plan. You can appoint a power of attorney to make crucial decisions on your behalf if you’re incapacitated. You can use your will to name someone as a guardian for any young children you might have. An estate planning lawyer can review your options and find the right one for your situation. By creating a comprehensive estate plan, you can be in charge of what happens to you instead of handing this power over to the court.

Contact an Experienced New York Guardianship Lawyer Today

The New York guardianship and estate planning lawyers want to help you rest easy knowing you will be carefully looked after in the event of an injury or illness. Contact Chaves Perlowitz Luftig, LLP today for more information on our services. We offer a free consultation to understand your needs better and explain how we can help.

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