While guardianship typically involves an adult taking legal custody of and responsibility for a minor child, it is also an option for elderly individuals who are unable to make decisions in their own best interests. However, seeking guardianship over an adult is not an endeavor that should be taken lightly, as it is generally a permanent arrangement that will last for the rest of the ward’s natural life.
You should strongly consider discussing available options and possibilities with a Manhattan guardianship lawyer before committing to this course of action. A seasoned local attorney could clarify whether you have valid grounds to petition for guardianship and whether it is the right call for your particular situation. If so, your attorney could guide you through the legal procedures necessary to become an adult’s legal guardian.
When Is Petitioning for Guardianship Appropriate?
When someone is making an estate plan, they have a variety of options for legally ensuring their wishes are upheld even in the event of their incapacitation, including living trusts, durable powers of attorney, and advance healthcare directives. However, if someone without these plans becomes unable to care for themselves due to a disease like dementia or Alzheimer’s, a stroke, or a serious accident, it may be best for a family member or loved one to seek legal authority to act on their loved one’s behalf.
There are two types of arrangements that may be appropriate in this kind of situation. A guardianship grants a legal guardian the right to make decisions regarding their ward’s physical and mental care. On the other hand, a conservatorship grants authority to a conservator over their ward’s financial interests.
While guardianship can help ensure a vulnerable adult gets the care they need, it also deprives that adult of personal autonomy and places a great deal of responsibility on their legal guardian. A guardianship attorney could discuss what may be best for a particular family during a private consultation in Manhattan.
The Guardianship Process in Manhattan
Any “interested person” who believes a guardianship would be in another adult’s best interests may file a petition seeking such an arrangement with the Riley County District Court’s Probate Division if the Respondent lives in Manhattan, or with the equivalent district court in the prospective ward’s county of residence. If the applicable probate court agrees that a petition presents good cause for a guardianship, the court will schedule a hearing and assign the proposed ward a “Guardian ad Litem” to represent their best interests during that hearing.
The petitioning party has the burden of proving that the respondent (incapacitated adult) is unable to live independently and take care of themselves, a process which must include a formal diagnosis from a medical professional evaluating the respondent’s degree of incapacitation. Based on presented evidence and testimony, the court has the discretion to reject the petition altogether, grant the petitioner limited authority over certain matters, or grant the petitioner complete authority over what care their ward receives. A guardianship lawyer in Manhattan could explain what responsibilities this kind of ruling might establish and help construct a strong case.
Seek Assistance from a Manhattan Guardianship Attorney
Petitioning to become an elderly family member’s guardian is an immensely serious decision for both you and your prospective ward. Taking on legal responsibility for an incapacitated adult means making a lot of complex and often emotionally taxing decisions.
Whether you just want to explore your options or are committed to pursuing this sort of arrangement, a knowledgeable Manhattan guardianship lawyer could provide essential guidance and support. Call today to set up a consultation.