Guardianship is, in some ways, similar to adoption. When a parent cannot take care of his or her child or someone cannot take care of a person who it is generally their responsibility to take care of, then that caretaker is considered “incapacitated,” and a guardian may be appointed for the child. This process involves the court, and may involve a hearing. A guardian is someone who will take care of of a person’s needs, but not with in the form of a legal parent-child relationship. It is important to note that an organization, like a residential treatment center, or corporation can become a guardian in some cases. Not all guardians are people, but this depends on the type of guardianship required. Sometimes, a guardian is appointed strictly for finances. Guardians can make gifts, invest funds and pay certain bills. On a more personal level, some guardians may make educational and medical treatment and insurance coverage decisions.

Article 81 of the New York Mental Hygiene Law states the duties of a guardian, and the different types of guardians. According to the law, a guardian shall, “provide for the personal needs of that person, including food, clothing, shelter, health care, or safety and /or to manage the property and financial affairs of that person.” In general, a guardian is appointed when someone normally responsible for someone cannot provide for the needs listed above of that person.

We understand that becoming a guardian is an act of care and a commitment and has a deep personal effect, and so it should be taken very seriously. Determining eligibility to become guardian or to need a guardian is essential as is the proper preparation of the guardianship petition. The Steward Law Firm represents clients in guardianship cases involving setting up a guardianship arrangement, setting up a temporary guardianship arrangement and modifying these arrangements.