New York Guardianship Laws and Advanced Planning Can Prevent Elder Abuse

The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has had previous posts concerning the issue of elder abuse.  A recent survey released by the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers reported that the financial exploitation of the elderly is a growing and ongoing problem.  The survey found that the top areas of abuse included theft of money and property by family, friends, neighbors and care-givers.  Also, using deception to obtain the signature of the senior on a deed, a Will or power of attorney was a top form of abuse.

A New York Guardianship Lawyer is familiar with the provisions of Article 81 of the Mental Hygiene Law (MHL) that can help to protect an older person from being taken advantage of.  MHL Section 81.29 allows a Court to void a deed, a power of attorney, a trust or health care proxy if the Court finds that a person did not have the required capacity to sign these papers.  Additionally, a Guardian of a person’s property has the authority to recover assets that were wrongfully taken from an incapacitated person by commencing a Court action against the wrongdoer.  The Guardianship proceeding allows the Court to make a full review as to whether the alleged incapacitated person is able to adequately protect his rights and whether the individuals who are interacting with the AIP are doing so in a fair and proper manner.

In order to avoid abusive situations, family members and close friends of an elderly person should try and keep in touch with the person on a regular basis.  If there are unusual occurrences regarding the senior, Court intervention may be needed.  As pointed out in the recent survey there are a number of signs or “red flags” that exploitation may be happening.  These indicia include the sudden appearance of a supposed friend or third party that is controlling or greatly involved with the elder person’s affairs or finances; a third person who is attempting to isolate the senior citizen from his family or friends; and unusual bank or financial transactions.

While it may be difficult to stop a wrongdoer who is intent on exploiting an elderly person, it is always a good idea to have the elderly person prepare a Last Will, Living Will, Power of Attorney and maybe a Living Trust with a New York Estate Lawyer of their choice.  As noted above, having family and friends stay in close and frequent contact with a senior citizen is imperative to make sure that a wrongdoer can not act with impunity.

I have represented many clients in proceedings for the appointment of a Guardian for the person and property of an incapacitated person.  I have also been successful in having the Court void a power of attorney and other papers when they were signed by the person whose capacity was diminished.

New York Guardianship Attorney Jules Martin Haas, Esq. has been representing clients in New York Guardianship Proceedings, throughout the past 30 years in New York, including Queens and Nassau Counties.  If you or someone you know is involved with or has questions about a New York Guardianship matter, please contact me at (212) 355-2575 or email:, for an initial consultation.

Jules Martin Haas provides his clients and members of the community with a free monthly e-newsletter which contains articles covering a variety of legal topics including estate planning, financial matters and real estate.  If you wish to be placed on the e-newslist, simply e-mail me at   You can cancel receiving the newsletter at anytime.


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