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Guardianship Lawyers White Plains, NY Help Families Care for Incapacitated Adults

Article 81 appointment empowers you to help an elderly loved one in Westchester County

People most often associate the term “guardian” with legal authority over an orphaned or abandoned child, known as a ward. However, New York uses the same term for the legal relationship one adult has with another dependent adult. Article 81 of New York’s Mental Hygiene Law allows the court to appoint a guardian to manage the personal and financial affairs for a person who does not have the capacity to do so. In our elder law practice, Giannasca & Shook, PLLC often participates in guardianship hearings. Sometimes we represent loved ones asking to be appointed; at other times we represent parties, including the elders in question, who oppose the appointment. In either case, we act with the utmost professionalism in keeping with the sensitive nature of the proceeding.

What powers can a guardian assume for an incapacitated adult?

Guardianship is appropriate when a person needs assistance with one or more of the essential tasks of managing life independently. An older adult may become forgetful and need someone to pay bills on time to prevent an interruption of services. A senior vulnerable to scam artists who prey on the elderly might be better off with someone else controlling the checkbook and credit cards.

Guardianship powers are flexible, so the court can draft a guardianship order that is very limited in scope and suited to the precise circumstances. In general, there are two broad categories of guardianship powers:

  • Guardian of the Person — This authority empowers the guardian to act for the ward’s health and welfare.
  • Guardian of the Estate — This authority empowers the guardian to manage the ward’s finances.

The court can grant both powers to a single guardian. However, a guardianship hearing is an adversarial process, where the court may appoint a guardian over the objection of the ward, who is entitled to representation at the hearing. Our elder law attorneys act as legal counsel for parties seeking an appointment as well as for elders who either want to retain their autonomy or object to the appointment of a particular guardian.

Caring for an elder’s welfare with powers of attorney

An elder who accepts the need to transfer authority to another responsible person may do so by drafting power of attorney documents. Like guardianships, these can be narrow or broad in scope, involving financial, health, safety, and medical matters. The person who assumes authority is called the agent, and the elder is the principal. The transfer of authority can be immediate or in anticipation of a future event that would trigger the authority.

A principal can give an agent medical power of attorney to make decisions if the principal becomes incapacitated. However, the principal can also draft an advance directive, stating specific instructions for the scope of lifesaving care the principal finds acceptable.

Trust our elder law attorneys for guardianship representation in White Plains, NY

Giannasca & Shook, PLLC represents seniors and prospective guardians in hearings to determine if a guardianship appointment is appropriate. We also draft powers of attorney to transfer authority now or in the future. To speak to an experienced elder law attorney, call 914-872-6000 or contact our office online to schedule a free consultation.