The law in New York establishes a few situations in which people can request guardianship. Article 81 grants concerned adults the option of seeking legal authority over someone struggling with health issues or cognitive decline.
Someone who becomes a guardian of an adult with disabling medical issues has the legal responsibility to oversee that person’s daily life. They may also need to manage their financial resources. Oftentimes, older adults would prefer to retain their independence and may fight back against an attempt to obtain guardianship.
When can other people seek guardianship for the protection of a vulnerable adult?
When someone struggles with daily life
The purpose of guardianship is to ensure that someone’s physical or mental health challenges do not leave them impoverished or at risk of severe hardship. The courts need to agree that an adult has become incapacitated and requires the support of someone else.
The standard for incapacitation in New York requires that someone be unable to care for their personal needs or their property. Additionally, there should be a reasonable likelihood that they would suffer harm due to their functional limitations.
Those seeking guardianship in New York typically need supporting evidence showing insurmountable medical issues. Someone’s diagnosis with a condition like Alzheimer’s disease could help demonstrate to the courts that they require the support of an outside party. Other times, financial evidence could help someone pursuing a guardianship. Records of someone failing to properly manage their assets or fulfill personal obligations could convince a New York probate judge that an older adult requires support.
Even witness statements can sometimes play a role in a guardianship case in New York. Neighbors, family members or care providers can testify about how someone has struggled to meet their own needs or mismanaged their resources. Provided that there is sufficient documentation about someone’s disabling condition or daily struggles, a judge may agree that a guardianship is necessary.
Typically, guardianship is not a realistic goal if the individual in question has durable powers of attorney on record, as those documents may have already assigned certain forms of authority to another individual. As such, learning about the requirements for an Article 81 guardianship may help people more effectively support aging loved ones in New York. Seeking legal guidance can also clarify if any alternative options are available.