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Guardianship For Elderly Relatives In New York State


Watching your loved ones age and become elderly can cause anxiety for everyone, especially if they are becoming less able to take care of themselves. It can feel as though there is no right answer for this problem, or at least no answer that allows them autonomy in their lives. However, in the right light, a guardianship can actually help your loved one have less stress, while you can rest easier knowing their rights are being protected. New York has specific laws that must be followed for adult guardianship.

Two Types Possible

There are two types of guardianships for adults in New York State. An Article 17-A guardianship is intended for adults who are intellectually or developmentally disabled and are unable to make decisions for themselves. This type of guardianship is the most restrictive, intended for people with significant challenges, and grants quite a bit of power to the guardian simply because it is presumed necessary for them to have it. It is rare for an elderly person to need this type of guardianship.  If it is not in place already, it probably will not be unless,  for example, a person sustains a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Then, this type of guardianship may be appropriate.

An Article 81 guardianship, by comparison, is much more commonly used with elderly people, as it is intended for those who become “incapacitated.”  The incapacity may show up as someone who loses the ability to handle their property and personal needs.  It could also be a case where someone is likely to suffer harm due to a lack of understanding of the potential fallout from that lack of ability. Anyone may petition for a guardianship for an allegedly incapacitated person, even the person themselves.

Is It The Best Option?

If you petition for a guardianship, it is important to be aware that it will not simply be granted; rather, a court hearing must be held to assess whether the alleged incapacitated person truly cannot handle their own affairs.  The court will want to hear any objections that person or anyone else might have to a potential guardianship. If the guardianship is granted, it imposes certain specific duties on the guardian, and a failure to perform these duties can be grounds for termination of the guardian.

In most cases, a guardianship, if granted, will last the rest of the person’s life, and is difficult – though not impossible – to terminate. Because of this, it is not necessarily recommended that seeking one be your first option. In some cases, it may be possible to use a power of attorney (POA) and/or a healthcare proxy, depending on the type of decisions that person may need assistance in making. Supported decision-making is another option that benefits some.

Contact A Putnam or Westchester Elder Law Attorney

If you have an elderly loved one in Putnam County or Westchester County (or even the surrounding counties of Rockland, Dutchess,  it can be difficult to help them live their best life while making sure their rights are protected. A Westchester or Putnam County elder law attorney from Meyer & Spencer, PC can help to set you and your family on the right path for everyone. Contact our office today at (914) 741-2288 to schedule a consultation.



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