New York Guardianship Proceedings Protect the Assets of the Incapacitated Person

A New York Guardianship Lawyer can advise a client with regard to the Guardian’s duties to protect the assets of the incapacitated person. Mental Hygiene Law (MHL) Section 81.21 is entitled “Powers of guardian; property management” and provides the various property management powers that are given to the Guardian. These powers are to be used to collect, preserve and apply the Guardianship property for the benefit of the person who is incapacitated.

The Mental Hygiene Law provides that the Guardian must file an Annual Report with the Court (MHL Section 81.31). The filing of the Report provides a means by which the Court can review whether the Guardian is acting in a proper manner on a year to year basis. These Annual Reports are typically reviewed by a Court appointed Court Examiner who provides a report to the Judge who is supervising the Guardianship case. The Judge then reviews the report and if the account is satisfactory, signs an Order approving the Report.

The Guardianship accounting process is somewhat different than the Accounting Proceedings that occur in the Surrogate’s Court regarding a decedent’s estate. It is very common that when settling an estate the final Estate Accounting is approved informally by the interested parties. In other words, the parties simply review the Executor’s Accounting or the Administrator’s Accounting and sign a Release form. There are no formal proceedings or accounting that is filed with the Surrogate’s Court. The process of probating a New York Will and settling a New York Estate does not require that an annual or a final account be approved by the Court. However, formal accounting proceedings requiring the Surrogate’s Court approval are sometimes required. In a Guardianship matter such as a Manhattan Guardianship, Nassau Guardianship, Queens Guardianship or other Court proceedings, annual and final Accountings must be filed and approved by the Court.

Probate and Guardianship Attorneys in New York can assist their clients when preparing the accounts that are needed to report the actions taken by them as fiduciaries. The best advise is to maintain complete records and copies of all papers showing all the financial transactions that were entered into. Also, hiring a fiduciary accountant can simplify the preparation of the accounting schedules that are required by the Court for reporting all information. Acting as a fiduciary such as a Guardian, Executor, Administrator or Trustee involves accepting the responsibility to protect and manage someone else’s assets. Proper guidance from a good Estate lawyer or Guardianship lawyer is essential to performing fiduciary duties properly and having the Court approve of the actions taken. Legal representation and diligence regarding property management is especially important where family members are fighting amongst themselves concerning the affairs of the person who is incapacitated. As recently reported in the Beverly Hills Courier on May 2, 2012, there is an ongoing dispute between Zsa Zsa Gabor’s husband and daughter concerning the management of her affairs. Although the article reports that the parties are attempting to settle the matter, each side will need to have a complete record of financial transactions concerning Ms. Gabor in order to fully access the situation and to present their case to the Court, if necessary.

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:, for an initial consultation.

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