Guardianships are arrangements whereby the court provides that one person, the guardian, has the legal authority to make decisions for another person, the ward, who is unable to make decisions for himself or herself. The ward could be a child, a developmentally disabled adult, or an adult who has become incapacitated. There are different kinds of guardianships, and in New York, it is critical to determine whether an Article 17-A or Article 81 guardianship is appropriate and proceed accordingly. Guardians are obliged to look out for the ward’s best interests. At Kupillas, Unger & Benjamin, LLP, our New York guardianship lawyers can help you set up the appropriate type of guardianship for your situation and resolve any disputes that may arise from a guardianship.Overview of Guardianships
Guardianships in New York are handled by the Surrogate’s Court, the Supreme Court, and the Family Court. The reasons for the guardianship will determine which type of guardianship should be sought. Anybody who is over age 18 and a citizen or legal resident of the United States can apply to be a guardian. A ward is someone for whom a guardian makes determinations. Guardians can be granted varying powers, including the power to make life decisions, the power to make determinations about someone’s money, or the power to act for someone in court when they cannot. Sometimes guardians have multiple powers, including the ability to make both life decisions and financial decisions.Article 81 Guardianships
Article 81 guardianships are highly specific and tailored. Only those powers that are necessary for the ward will be granted to a guardian. Article 81 guardianships are usually used for adults who are developmentally disabled, mentally ill, or very elderly. Our guardianship attorneys can advise New York residents on when this type of guardianship may be appropriate. The judge will appoint a court evaluator to serve as an observer and to report to the court on whether a guardian needs to be appointed and which powers would be appropriate. For example, a prospective ward might not be able to pay bills or keep accountings of their finances, but they may be able to make their own medical decisions. This is one of the most common reasons why it is necessary to set up a guardianship. A disabled person may not have the mental capacity to pay bills and keep track of money or invest it.
There are other wards who are not able to function on their own almost at all, and more powers may be assigned in these cases of global disability. They may not be able to do basic tasks like taking baths, using the bathroom, and getting food. They may not be able to clean their homes, or they may need to be in a proper residential care facility and need someone to place them in a facility, while handling the steps needed to obtain Medicaid eligibility.Article 17-A Guardianships
As our New York guardianship attorneys can explain, Article 17-A guardianships are usually more powerful than Article 81 guardianships. It is assumed that somebody who has reached age 18 has become an adult who is competent to care for himself or herself. However, there are situations in which a mental or developmental disability makes it necessary for parents or an adult guardian to continue a strong decision-making or caregiving role. Article 17-A guardianships are usually sought by parents whose children suffer from developmental disabilities or mental retardation and who need to continue care after age 18. A guardianship allows parents to maintain care of these children, even though they have reached the age of legal adulthood. A 17-A guardianship is sought in Surrogate’s Court. Guardians can have a guardianship over a ward’s property, person, or both, and they can make medical decisions for the ward.
Usually, the clerk of the Surrogate’s Court holds funds and property for a 17-A ward. The guardian is supposed to turn over the ward’s money into the jointly held account.Consult a Guardianship Lawyer in New York to Discuss Your Options
The appointment of a guardian may be a huge change in a ward’s life. If you are considering setting up a guardianship, or if you are concerned that a guardianship may not be appropriate, you should consult Kupillas, Unger & Benjamin, LLP. We represent people in Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island, as well as on Long Island and in New York City’s collar counties. Call us at (212) 835-1532 or complete our online form to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.