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New York Guardianship Proceedings Concern Guardianship for Personal Needs and Property Management

New York Guardianship Lawyers are often asked by clients as to the type of Guardianship that is needed concerning an alleged incapacitated person (“AIP”). The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has discussed many instances where the Court has appointed a guardian for both the person and property of the AIP. In fact, in a Manhattan Guardianship, Queens Guardianship, Brooklyn Guardianship or any other county, the Court typically appoints the same person as both property management and personal needs guardian. New York Mental Hygiene Law (MHL) Section 81.22 concerns personal needs powers and Section 81.21 concerns property management.

While most Guardianship proceedings are initiated by a petition filed by a family member such as a spouse or child, many times the guardianship case is started by a hospital or nursing home. Sometimes, the local social services department starts the case after it receives information from Adult Protective Services that a person may be at risk.

A nursing home or hospital may file a Guardianship petition with the Court because a family member fails or refuses to do so and the institution needs to be paid. Payment may require a Guardian to either access the AIP’s assets or make an application for Medicaid.

The situation described above presented some interesting issues in a Long Island Guardianship case recently. In Matter of Restaino, decided by Justice Arthur M. Diamond (Supreme Court, Nassau County), on August 29, 2012 and reported in the New York Law Journal on September 7, 2012, an extended care facility filed a Nassau County Guardianship case seeking to be appointed only as property management special guardian for property so it could apply for Medicaid for the AIP to pay for the AIP’s care. It was the facilities’ view that it did not need to ask the Court for the appointment of a personal needs Guardian since the Family Healthcare Decisions Act would provide a mechanism for the AIP’s son or the facility to make health care decisions for the AIP.

The FHCDA came into existence in 2010 and provides a priority list of persons who would have authority to make health care decisions for incapacitated patients.

After reviewing the FHCDA the Court determined that the appointment of a personal needs Guardian was necessary since the act did not provide the extensive authority for the decision maker and protection for the AIP that was given to a personal needs Guardian. The Court ultimately appointed the extended care facility as special Guardian of the property and the AIP’s son as Guardian of the person.

As a Guardianship attorney, I work closely with my clients who are family members or friends of an AIP to determine the best course for having the Court appoint a Guardian. While sometimes there is a contested Guardianship, most often, families and friends pursue Guardianship so that the AIP’s personal and property affairs can be kept in order and decisions can be made in the best interest of the person who is incapacitated.


New York City Guardianship Attorney Jules Martin Haas, Esq. has been representing clients in Guardianship matters in the Bronx and Manhattan and other counties throughout the past 30 years. If you or someone you know is involved with or has questions about a New York Guardianship, please contact me at (212) 355-2575 or email: jules.haas@verizon.net, for an initial consultation.

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