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A guardianship proceeding refers to a legal proceeding by which a Court will appoint a Guardian to manage the property affairs of a person as well as her or his personal needs when the person is not able to manage his or her activities and attend her own needs due to legal incapacity. The guardianship proceedings commenced before the Supreme Court due to a person’s new incapacity to attend her property or personal needs is authorized by Article 81 of New York’s Mental Hygiene Law (N.Y.M.H.L.).
Through a petition, the person (Petitioner) requesting that a guardian be appointed for another person will have to demonstrate that the person is incapacitated as per Article 81 of N.Y.M.H.L. but will also need to show that the proposed guardian is suitable with regards to the person’s specific needs and condition. It is possible to appoint one person as the incapacitated person’s both Guardian of the person and property or to appoint two different guardians who will separately assume each of these roles.
It is important to note that not all guardians appointed pursuant to Article 81 of N.Y.M.H.L. have the same powers over the incapacitated person and his or her property. Indeed, Guardianship orders are tailored to meet the incapacitated person’s specific needs.
An order appointing a Guardian will have several effects: as well a giving the guardian the authority to act on behalf of an incapacitated person, it can help prevent neglect or dangerous behaviors of an incapacitated person, it can prevent financial or physical abuse, it can ensure an incapacitated person will maintain her residence and pay her bills. Additionally, a Guardian will often have the power to prepare legal documents to optimize or preserve an incapacitated person’s tax or Medicaid benefits.