New York Guardianship Property Transfers Require Court Approval And Review

The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has previously discussed numerous aspects concerning the appointment and duties of an Article 81 personal needs and property management Guardian.

Very often the assets of the incapacitated person includes real property such as a home. It may become necessary for the Guardian to sell the home if the incapacitated person no longer can live in a community setting due to illness, or if the maintenance of the home is unaffordable or if the proceeds from the sale are needed for the person’s long term care.

Other considerations may be presented where the home might be transferred to a relative in conjunction with Medicaid or estate planning and thereby preserved for the incapacitated person, as well as family members, to live in.

An interesting situation involving such a transfer arose in the case of White v. Prister, 912 N.Y.S.2d 127 (2nd Dept. 2010). In White, a daughter had been appointed as guardian of the person and property of her mother, Lila. Following the appointment, the daughter moved into the mother’s house and after a few years asked the Court for permission to transfer the title to the house to the daughter/guardian “for Medicaid and estate planning purposes.” The Court approved the transfer and the deed to the house was placed in the daughter’s name.

After Lila died, her great granddaughter, on behalf of Lila’s estate, sought to set aside the deed. The Court refused to undo the transfer and dismissed the great granddaughter’s case finding that the daughter was allowed by the family to live in the house for many years after Lila’s death without any objection. Thus, the equitable concept of “laches” or undue delay prevented the voiding of the deed. The Court found that it would have been inequitable to force the daughter to give up the house at such late date.

New York Guardianship Attorney Jules Martin Haas handles all types of probate cases, including Wills, estate planning, estate settlement, advanced directives and guardianship matters. Please call me at (212) 355-2575 for a free consultation to discuss your rights.

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