Guardianships

New York Guardianship Lawyer

Many families deal with the issue of caring for an elderly parent, or other loved ones who are ill or disabled. In some cases, an individual lacks the mental capacity to make proper decisions on his or her own behalf, or to handle basic activities of daily living. In these situations, it is worth considering the appointment of a legal guardian for the benefit of the person's personal safety and financial stability.

Rubin Ferziger has served as a court-appointed legal guardian for incapacitated adults over the course of his 35 years in legal practice. Those who fill this role must be approved by the courts as having the knowledge, integrity and ability to properly handle the responsibility.

As a result of his extensive experience, Rubin is uniquely qualified to advise and assist families in selecting a person to oversee the affairs of a loved one, and securing legal appointment of that individual as guardian. Often, it's a son or daughter, or other family member who becomes the legal guardian of the debilitated person.

Here are answers to questions that frequently arise regarding the appointment of a guardian.

What exactly is a legal guardian?

A legal guardian is an individual who is appointed to administer the financial and other affairs of a person suffering from diminished mental and physical capacity. Frequently, this is an individual of advanced age, with business, investment or real estate interests, who is diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease or dementia. In addition to being unable to make appropriate financial decisions, the person has difficultly handling simple, day-to-day living activities.

Family disputes often arise in these circumstances. For example, children fight about who can effectively manage mom or dad's assets, or who might live in the parent's home to administer care, or how a decision may be reached concerning nursing home residency. These are just a few of the many questions and concerns that provoke arguments and contention.

What are the advantages of having a guardian?

Having a legal guardian appointed to handle these responsibilities and make appropriate decisions can dramatically ease tensions, in what otherwise can be an overwhelming situation confronting the family. The guardian oversees management of the assets, pays monthly and other expenses, and can coordinate health care assistance the affected individual may require, among other duties.

It's not always the elderly who benefit from the services of a guardian. Sometimes parents want to make provisions for a child with special needs when they are gone. Language can be included in a Will that requires the services of a guardian to be engaged, for assistance with managing money, assets and health care services for the benefit of the child.

Generally, guardians may be appointed whenever age, illness or medical disability results in diminished mental and/or physical capacity, and impacts a person's ability to make appropriate decisions on his or her own behalf. A legal guardian can:

  • Make sure bills are paid in a timely fashion
  • Oversee professional management of investments and real estate
  • Coordinate medical and health services
  • Negotiate differences and reduce squabbling among family members
  • Maintain continuous contact to make sure the individual is safe and secure

In some instances, a guardian is appointed solely for the purpose of managing assets, asset protection, and medical and health care decisions are handled separately.

How does the appointment process work for families who may benefit by having a guardian?

Family members who intend to secure a guardian, or wish to explore that option, retain the Ferziger law firm for counsel. The family may have a specific person in mind, suited to the responsibility, or may want advice on making an appropriate selection. At other times, there is a discussion about choosing an outside, unbiased third party who can fill the role.

If the family decides to move forward with the process, a court proceeding is then initiated to request the appointment. A formal application is filed. The court will examine the proposed guardian's background and qualifications, and may approve or deny the family's choice. The individual may have to participate in a training course about fulfilling the role of a guardian ethically and responsibly.

If the court determines that there isn't a family member suited to act as guardian, the judge may appoint an outside party. The court has a list of trained attorneys who are frequently selected for the appointment.

If the guardian is to be paid for services, compensation is determined by law. Generally, it is a small percentage of the assets managed. In all instances, the guardian is legally required to submit a detailed accounting of expenditures and payments to the court.

The Ferziger law firm's approach to handling guardianship applications…

Rubin is sensitive to each family's concerns about the well-being, safety and financial stability of a loved one. Clients receive the time and attention necessary to make everyone feel comfortable, and to be sure that their father, mother, or other relative is treated with dignity and respect. Providing attentive estate planning and estate administration Link to Estate Planning & Probate services, and taking the steps necessary for the individual to receive proper assistance, is the firm's number-one priority.

If you need legal assistance with the appointment of a guardian or to discuss the role that conservatorship can play in your family's situation, please contact the Law Office of Rubin Ferziger today at 212-490-8585.