If you have a loved one who no longer has the cognitive and communicative ability to handle his or her own affairs, you may worry about how you can help provide needed assistance.
In New York, Article 81 guardianship may be an option. This estate planning tool allows a court-approved guardian to handle financial, property and other personal interest matters on behalf of an incapacitated individual.
1. How do you establish guardianship?
When petitioning the court for a guardian, a judge may appoint an evaluator. This evaluator will meet with your loved one to determine whether his or her disability requires Article 81 protections and the extent of control the guardian will have over his or her estate.
2. What are the responsibilities of a guardian?
Once the evaluation is complete, you may have to attend a hearing in which a judge decides which specific legal powers the guardian will have. Common examples of guardian responsibilities include:
- Making decisions regarding health care and medical coverage
- Managing finances, including handling utility, grocery, medical and other expenses
- Monitoring the safety of your loved one’s living situation and social contacts
- Reporting your loved one’s ongoing status to the courts
3. Who can be a guardian?
The court has the final say about who may act as guardian. If you are not in a position to take on the role yourself, another family member or a trusted non-profit agent may be eligible.
Every guardianship case is as unique as the family it serves. Before committing, make sure that you and your family understand the duties and potential complications of pursuing Article 81 protections.