As people age or develop health issues, the ability to manage finances and make sound health decisions can sometimes decline. In these situations, guardianship can be a valuable option.
Guardianship allows an adult child or other responsible individual to make important decisions on behalf of someone who is older or disabled.
Responsibilities of guardians
As a guardian, you assume the duty of making critical decisions for your loved one, such as a disabled relative or elderly parent. Responsibilities might include overseeing bank accounts, making medical decisions and managing investments. Courts formally establish guardianship, and a judge can monitor you to confirm you are acting in your loved one’s best interest.
You should always prioritize the best interests of your loved one if you are a guardian. The court order sets clear boundaries within which you must operate. Often, it is necessary to file frequent reports and update the court on your loved one’s condition. Meanwhile, your relative retains due process rights for the duration of the guardianship and can dispute its necessity.
Eligibility for guardianship
In New York, there are two main types of adult guardianship. Article 17-A guardianship is for adults with developmental or intellectual disabilities. Article 81 allows for guardianship of incapacitated adults with conditions like dementia who cannot make important decisions for themselves. Most families who seek guardianship for older adults utilize this type of guardianship. Under Article 81, a judge can give the guardian limited, specific powers as needed, making it a more flexible option.
To become a guardian in New York, you must be at least 18 years old. Relatives often become guardians, but nonprofit organizations and even local social services can assume the role. You can also file a petition for yourself if you foresee needing a guardian.
The judge overseeing the case can appoint a guardian after the hearing. If the judge designates you as a guardian, the court should outline your duties and limitations in a court order. These responsibilities can vary from making healthcare choices to paying bills.
Guardianship enables families to support those who cannot manage their affairs independently. Through a court order, you can develop a tailored strategy to help you meet your loved one’s specific needs.