If you are in the early stages of dementia, Alzheimer’s or other debilitating and degenerative disease, you should act quickly to make a comprehensive estate plan, including execution of a durable power of attorney, health care proxy and living will (if you don’t already have one). Early-stage dementia/Alzheimer’s patients most likely still have capacity to make these important, financial- and health-related decisions. If you do not have these arrangements in place, and your disease progresses to the point where you are, or are becoming, incapacitated, you may be subject to a guardianship proceeding in a New York court.
What is a guardian and what does one do?
Under New York’s Mental Hygiene Law, a guardian is a person (at least 18 years old), corporation or public agency appointed by a judge to manage (to the extent necessary) your personal needs and/or property. In this capacity, the guardian may be authorized to:
- make transactions for the incapacitated person;
- transfer funds for payment of bills or to support dependents;
- deal with Medicaid eligibility issues;
- deal with estate and tax issues.
A guardian makes periodic reports to the court about the continuing condition of the person he was appointed to care for.
Someone I know may need to have a guardian appointed or is the subject of a guardianship petition:
- Determine your interest in the case.
- Document your observations about the person’s capacity.
- Get in touch with an estate planning or elder law lawyer with substantial experience in guardianship proceedings.
Changes may occur in this area of law. The information provided is brought to you as a public service with the help and assistance of volunteer legal editors, and is intended to help you better understand the law in general. It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem or to substitute for the advice of a lawyer.