Understanding Guardianship in New York

Understanding Guardianship in New York

Many of us have family members who eventually cannot manage their affairs. A degenerative illness, a serious injury, a developmental disability, among other circumstances, are why guardianship proceedings exist in New York.

Understanding guardianship is important but can be confusing. Keep reading to learn more about guardianship in New York from the estate planning attorneys at Chaves Perlowitz Luftig LLP.

What is Guardianship in New York City?

When you file for guardianship over a vulnerable adult or a child, you’re asking the court to give you legal authority to make key decisions for them. 

For adults, a guardian is appointed to look after those mentally or physically unable to care for themselves. For children, guardians are appointed to make sure the child is well cared for if the parents die or cannot provide appropriate care for the child on their own.

A guardian’s duties include handling their ward’s finances, ensuring they get the medical treatment they need, and ensuring their life needs are met. If you’re the guardian of a minor, you will decide where they attend school and how they will be raised.

What are the Different Types of Guardianship in NY?

There are three broad types of guardianship in New York:

  • Guardianship for developmentally or intellectually disabled adults — Under Article 17-A of the New York (State) Code of Laws, the court can appoint a guardian for someone suffering from intellectual or developmental disabilities if they are necessary to provide for the disabled adult’s finances or personal needs and the disabled adult either agrees to have a guardian or is incapacitated. Under Article 17-A, you can file for guardianship over someone’s assets, the person, or both. These petitions are filed in the Surrogate’s Court.
  • Guardianship for incapacitated adults — Guardianship for incapacitated adults who could previously handle their own affairs falls under Article 81 of the New York Code of Laws. An Article 81 guardianship may be necessary if someone is suffering from a generative neurological illness, like dementia, or if they’re incapacitated after sustaining some kind of injury. Article 81 guardianship can be fairly broad or narrowly tailored, depending on the incapacitated adult’s needs. The Supreme Court of New York handles these cases.
  • Guardianship for children under age 18 — A child under age 18 who has lost their parents due to illness, injury, disappearance, or death may be appointed a guardian under Article 17 of the New York Code. If the child’s parents left a will, they might have designated a guardian already. You can file a petition in Family Court or Surrogate’s Court for this type of guardianship. 

What Documents Do I Need to File for Guardianship?

Depending on the type of guardianship you’re applying for, you will need to include some (or all) of the following documents:  

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

Many of these documents are available online. A guardianship lawyer in New York can help complete the forms and petition the court for you. 

Contact a Skilled Estate Planning Attorney Today

An experienced New York estate planning attorney at Chaves Perlowitz Luftig LLP can help you understand the process of applying to be someone’s guardian. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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