Illnesses and injuries can rob otherwise healthy New Yorkers of their ability to care for themselves. Not only can an accident or other life-altering event prevent a person from being able to manage their physical well-being but such an occurrence can also preclude such a person from taking care of their financial and legal responsibilities.

While care givers can provide incapacitated persons with the day-to-day support they need to meet their basic health and physical requirements, guardianships are often established to provide those who need help managing their bills, investments, and money with directed attention. Guardians can be designated in certain legal tools such as powers of attorney and medical directives but when such documents do not exist then the courts may step in and appoint guardians for those who require them.

A guardian can exercise a variety of duties for the individual they support, who is often referred to as their ward. They may make health and money decisions for their ward and they may manage the care services provided to the ward to ensure that they are adequate. However, to the extent that a ward is able to handle some of these responsibilities on their own the courts allow them to maintain as much independence as they can without overly burdensome intervention by their guardian.

Not all individuals may qualify as guardians as certain restrictions apply to appointments. Generally guardians musts be adults and they must be of sound mind so as to handle their wards’ needs. Guardians may also be chosen by the wards they will serve though courts will scrutinize the wards’ choices to ensure that their selections are sound.

The role of the guardian is of the utmost importance to the ward they serve. A responsible guardian can help their ward protect their wealth and live a thriving life. Though not all individuals will require guardians in their lifetimes, those who wish to learn more about this important legal designation are invited to contact their long-term care planning attorneys.