New York Guardianships End Upon the Death of the Incapacitated Person

New York Guardianship Attorneys are familiar with Article 81 of the Mental Hygiene Law (“MHL”) which provides the statutory provisions governing Guardianships in New York. When a person is determined to be incapacitated and a Guardian is appointed for property management or personal needs, the Court will issue an Order and Judgment specifying the Guardian’s duties and powers. Thereafter, the County Clerk will issue a Commission which is the formal certification of the Guardian’s appointment.

A Guardianship is generally ended upon the death of the incapacitated person. The Court Order and Judgment usually sets forth the procedures that are to be followed when the incapacitated person dies. These requirements typically re-state portions of the MHL law. For example, MHL 81.44 entitled “Proceedings upon the death of an incapacitated person”, contains a number of requirements including that within twenty (20) days after the incapacitated person dies a Guardian must send a statement of death to the Court examiner and the estate personal representative. Also, within 150 days of death the Guardian must serve a statement of assets and deliver all guardianship property to the estate personal representative.

In addition to the requirements of MHL 81.44 other sections of the law also relate to post-death procedures. MHL 81.21(a)(14) allows a Guardian to pay funeral expenses for the incapacitated person and MHL 81.21 (a)(20) gives the power to “defend or maintain any judicial action or proceeding to a conclusion until an executor or administrator is appointed.”

As stated in MHL 81.44, the Guardian is required to prepare and file a final report or accounting. As can be seen, accepting an appointment as Guardian involves a great deal of responsibility. Both before and after the death of the incapacitated person, the Guardian must maintain detailed reports to be filed with the Court regarding the person’s assets, income, expenses and general welfare. When an incapacitated person dies, all of this information transfers over to the estate representative who must review the Guardian’s transactions and determine whether to provide final approval or acceptance of the Guardian’s conduct. If the estate representative, such as an Executor or Administrator, feels that the Guardian did not act properly, objections can be filed to the Guardianship Accounting and the Court will determine whether any corrections or other remedy is required.

Guardianship and estate proceedings often interconnect especially since many Article 81 Guardianship matters concern older individuals who have become disabled due to physical illness or other conditions such as dementia. As a Guardianship and Estate Lawyer I have represented individuals involved in all of these types of proceedings. Sometimes my clients have been involved in Guardianship proceedings and then have requested that I assist with representation in probate or administration matters after the incapacitated person has died.

New York Guardianship Attorney Jules Martin Haas, Esq. has been representing clients in New York Guardianship Proceedings, Trusts and Estates matters and Surrogate’s Court 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 or estate, please contact me at (212) 355-2575 or email:, for an initial consultation.

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