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  • Mark J. Keller, Esq

Understanding Guardianship in New York State

Navigating the complexities of guardianship law can be challenging. At the Law Office of Mark J. Keller, we understand the importance of ensuring the well-being of those who cannot care for themselves, whether due to age, incapacity, or disability. This blog post aims to elucidate the different types of guardianship in New York State and the distinct roles of a Guardian of the Person versus a Guardian of the Property.

Types of Guardianship in New York State

Guardianship for Minors

When a child's parents are unable to care for them, a guardian is appointed to ensure the child's needs are met. This includes making decisions about the child's education, healthcare, and general welfare. In New York, this is a serious responsibility, and the guardian acts as a protective figure in the child's life, providing a stable environment for growth and development.

Guardianship for Incapacitated Adults

Under Article 81 of the New York Mental Hygiene Law, an incapacitated person may have a guardian appointed to manage their personal and/or financial affairs. This type of guardianship is tailored to the individual's specific needs and may grant the guardian broad or limited powers. It is designed to offer flexibility and to respect the dignity and autonomy of the incapacitated person as much as possible.

Guardianship for Developmentally Disabled Individuals (Article 17-A)

Article 17-A of the Surrogate's Court Procedure Act allows for the appointment of a guardian for individuals with developmental disabilities. This type of guardianship is often pursued by parents or relatives of a disabled individual who is incapable of managing their own affairs due to their condition. The guardian's role is to provide for the personal and property management needs of the disabled individual, ensuring their well-being and financial security.

Standby Guardian

A standby guardian is someone who has been designated to quickly assume the role of guardian for a child or incapacitated adult in the event that the current guardian is no longer able to fulfill their duties. This arrangement is particularly important for caregivers with serious illnesses or those in high-risk professions, providing peace of mind that their wards will be cared for without interruption should anything happen to them.

Guardian of the Person vs. Guardian of the Property

Guardian of the Person

This guardian is responsible for non-financial decisions. They ensure the personal care of the individual, making choices about living arrangements, medical care, and social interactions. It's a role that requires compassion and a deep understanding of the ward's needs and wishes, as well as a commitment to acting in their best interests at all times.

Guardian of the Property

Also known as a Guardian of the Estate, this role involves managing the ward's financial affairs. From paying bills to handling investments, the Guardian of the Property must be meticulous and transparent, often providing the court with regular updates on the estate's status. They must also be adept at financial planning and asset management to ensure the ward's estate is used for their benefit and protection.

Dual Roles in Guardianship

The Possibility of One Person Fulfilling Both Roles

In many cases, the court may find it suitable for one individual to serve as both the Guardian of the Person and the Guardian of the Property. This can be an efficient arrangement, especially when the guardian has a close relationship with the ward and possesses the necessary skills to manage both personal and financial affairs. It allows for a more streamlined decision-making process and can be less confusing for the ward, who only has to interact with one guardian.

When Separate Guardians Are Appointed

However, there are instances where the court may decide to appoint different people for each role. This separation of duties can occur when it serves the best interest of the ward, such as when one person is better suited to handle personal care decisions while another has the expertise to manage financial matters. This division can also help prevent potential conflicts of interest and ensure that the ward's needs are met by individuals who are most capable in each specific area.

The Critical Role of Guardianship

Protecting the Vulnerable

Guardianship is a legal mechanism that protects those who cannot protect themselves. It's a noble and vital service that ensures the safety and security of the most vulnerable members of our society, including children, the incapacitated, and individuals with developmental disabilities.

Ensuring Proper Care and Management

Whether it's making sure a child receives a proper education or an adult's assets are wisely invested, guardians play an indispensable role in maintaining the ward's best interests at all times. They are the frontline defenders of their wards' rights and well-being.

How We Can Help

Experienced Legal Guidance

At the Law Office of Mark J. Keller, we have the experience to navigate the guardianship process with you. We provide compassionate and competent legal counsel to ensure that your loved ones are protected, and their futures are secure.

Comprehensive Support

From filing the necessary paperwork to representing you in court, we are with you every step of the way. Our goal is to make the process as smooth and stress-free as possible for you and your family.

If you're considering guardianship for a loved one or need assistance with any aspect of the process, don't hesitate to contact the Law Office of Mark J. Keller. Call us at 718-297-1890 or email Visit our website at Mark J. Keller Law for more information. We're here to provide the support and guidance you need.

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