While drafting a living will or authorizing power of attorney can help establish an individual’s wishes for future care, they are not always sufficient for solving short-term issues for those with a long-term disability. In these situations, the best option for everyone involved may be for a family member to establish themselves as the disabled individual’s legal guardian.
However, becoming a guardian in Manhattan is a serious decision that carries an immense amount of responsibility, and the legal process to set up guardianship is hardly simple either. Seeking guidance from a knowledgeable guardianship attorney could be crucial to helping you understand how guardianship works and determining whether it is the right choice for your family’s unique circumstances.
Who Can Become a Guardian in Manhattan?
In New York, the right to serve as someone else’s legal guardian is restricted to individuals over 18 years old, without criminal records, who are either citizens or lawful permanent residents of the United States. This role is typically filled by an immediate family member of an incapacitated person, nominated as their guardian in their estate plan. However, the court may alternatively assign someone to serve as an incapacitated person’s guardian if it is necessary to manage that person’s financial and/or personal affairs.
In addition to making decisions regarding property and/or asset management on behalf of their dependent, becoming a legal guardian in Manhattan also imposes responsibility upon that guardian for various other aspects of their dependent’s life. Depending on the circumstances, this might include ensuring that taxes and bills are paid on time, filing tax returns on the individual’s behalf, and handling investments in a way that serves the person’s fiduciary interests.
Basic Steps in the Guardianship Process
Applying to become the guardian of an incapacitated adult in Manhattan first requires filing a petition for guardianship with the state Supreme Court, in accordance with the rules set out in Article 81 of New York Mental Hygiene Law. This petition serves as a formal request for the court to appoint a guardian who would make important decisions regarding healthcare and personal welfare for the specified individual, a guardian of the property who would control financial matters, or both.
Article 81 also explains the proper protocol for guardianship hearings. It states that the court will appoint an evaluator who will meet with the proposed ward, examine their living situation and level of disability, and make a recommendation to the court about whether establishing guardianship would be appropriate. During an ensuing hearing, the petitioner should be prepared to present clear and convincing evidence demonstrating not only the proposed ward’s incapacity to manage their own affairs, but also the likelihood that living without a guardian would lead to that person causing undue harm to themselves or their finances.
Talk to a Manhattan Attorney About Becoming a Guardian
With relatively few exceptions, becoming a guardian of a cognitively incapacitated person in Manhattan is an arrangement that will last for the rest of one’s life. With that in mind, it is worth discussing your options with legal counsel before committing time and resources to pursuing this course of action.
A knowledgeable guardianship lawyer could provide much-needed guidance and information during an initial meeting. Schedule yours by calling today.