When a person is no longer able to care for themselves, New York law allows the court to appoint a guardian who can make decisions on their behalf. This is applicable for both minors and incapacitated adults. The court expects guardians to act in the best interest of the ward they are representing. If you are considering obtaining legal guardianship for a minor or an incapacitated adult, it is important to understand that you will need to file a petition with the court and complete the necessary evaluation process. Our attorneys can guide you through this complex process and help ensure that the best interests of the ward are protected.
If you have questions regarding legal guardianship in Staten Island, we suggest seeking the guidance of an estate planning attorney. Our experienced lawyers at DiVernieri, DiVernieri & Cotter, LLP have assisted numerous clients in the Staten Island area with the guardianship process. Whether you need to petition for guardianship or contest a guardianship appointment, we are here to assist you. Please reach out to us today to schedule a consultation.
In family law, a legal guardian is someone designated to act as the primary caregiver of a child under the age of 18. The appointment of a guardian can be made by the child's parents themselves or by a family court judge. When parents draft a last will and testament, they can name a guardian for their minor children. If they pass away, the court will appoint the designated guardian. However, it is possible to object to the appointment of a guardian for minor children if there are concerns about their ability or suitability to fulfill the responsibilities of a guardian.
Courts can also appoint legal guardians for adults who cannot care for themselves. In these circumstances, the guardian will assume legal responsibility for an incapacitated or elderly adult. The guardian will be referred to as the “Guardian of the Person.” The term guardian can also describe a person appointed to oversee someone else’s financial matters, known as the “Guardian of the Estate.”
Before the court appoints a guardian, the judge will need to decide that the adult is legally incompetent. The process of declaring someone incompetent begins with a petition submitted in the “Surrogate's Court” division of New York court. The “Surrogate's Court” handles estate issues, guardianship issues, adoptions, and other proceedings related to family law.
While you do have the option to represent yourself during a guardianship hearing, we recommend consulting with an experienced lawyer. Staten Island-area courts treat legal guardianship matters seriously. Guardianship matters are essential, and they may affect a child’s future as well as the rights of his or her biological parents. For incompetent adults, guardianship will affect their physical and financial care.
Your lawyer will be able to ensure that your rights are protected. Navigating the process of objecting to a guardian or petitioning to become a guardian requires knowledge of New York’s guardianship laws. You also need to attend guardianship hearings in court, and your attorney can help you prepare for the hearings. During the hearings, your attorney will be able to present evidence, question witnesses, and help you understand the process.
It's essential to understand that as a legal guardian, you have significant responsibilities to the individual you are appointed to care for. These responsibilities include making decisions that are in the best interest of the person under your care. For minors, this can include deciding on their education, healthcare, and general welfare. For incapacitated adults, guardianship involves overseeing their physical and financial care.
As a guardian, you will need to ensure that the person under your care has access to all necessary medical care and assistance, including arranging medical appointments, coordinating with healthcare providers, and managing medications. You will also need to provide a safe and comfortable living environment, and make decisions regarding the individual's daily living activities.
In addition to the care responsibilities, guardians may also have to manage the person's finances. This includes paying bills, managing investments, and making purchases that are necessary for the individual's care. It's important to note that guardians have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the person under their care and manage their finances responsibly.
Acting as a legal guardian involves significant legal responsibility. In many cases, a legal guardian will also have physical and legal custody of the individual, and therefore, must fulfill duties just as any biological parent would for his or her child. The guardian must make decisions that ensure the individual’s wellbeing, such as:
The permanence of legal guardianship depends on the Court's order. Typically, guardianship of a minor terminates once the child reaches the age of majority, which is usually 18. However, guardianship can also end for other reasons, such as if the guardian becomes incapacitated and is unable to fulfill their duties or if the individual being cared for regains their mental or physical competence. In these cases, the court may decide to terminate the guardianship if it's in the individual's best interest.
Temporary guardianship is another type of legal guardianship arrangement that is intended to be temporary from the outset. For instance, if a single mother is undergoing intensive cancer treatment and wants to appoint a guardian until her treatment is complete, the court may issue a temporary guardianship. Similarly, if one parent is receiving treatment for a mental health condition and is uncertain when they will be able to effectively parent again, the court may grant a temporary guardianship.
The attorneys at DiVernieri, DiVernieri and Cotter, LLP have extensive experience assisting clients with guardianship matters throughout the greater Staten Island area. We understand how crucial legal guardianship is for our clients. We will carefully listen to the facts involved in your case and provide you with effective legal advice and representation that you will need during the guardianship hearings in court. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation.