In New York, a court may appoint a guardian to manage the personal and/or financial affairs of an adult who cannot make appropriate decisions for himself or herself because of incapacity (or cognitive limitations). There is also an alternate procedure under the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act that can be used if a person is incapacitated because of mental retardation or developmental disability.
Many people wonder what constitutes incapacity. It is not necessarily an overall incompetence, but an inability to understand or appreciate one’s own limitations regarding particular tasks, such as determining a safe place to live, making medical decisions, managing one’s finances, or preventing financial abuse or exploitation. These are just a few examples.
In an effort to make intervention as least restrictive as possible, the New York legislature established a guardianship system which can tailor either personal and/or property management needs of an incapacitated person to his or her individual situation. The law takes into account the personal wishes, preferences and desires of the person, and affords the greatest amount of independence, self-determination and participation in all the decisions impacting his or her life.
At Dutcher and Zatkowsky – RochesterElderLaw.com, we can help you avoid a guardianship proceeding through advanced planning. Tools to accomplish this include a power of attorney or health care proxy. Choosing an appropriate guardian is obviously a critical decision, since it involves both emotional and financial well-being. We have the experience, understanding and compassion to help you select an appropriate guardian and provide sound legal counsel to them. Learn more about guardianship by contacting us for an initial consultation.