A lot of New York parents are caregivers for adults or parents of young children. This means that these individuals are caring for another person who is unable to independently care for him or herself. Because of this dependent relationship, estate planners who serve as caregivers or parents will want to include a plan for their dependents in their estate documentation. In other cases — in the event that an adult relative becomes incapacitated — it may be necessary for a New York resident to establish guardianship over that person’s affairs in probate court.
Guardianship provides an agent or “guardian” with the ability to make life decisions — usually relating to medical care and other personal needs — on behalf of another person, who is legally referred to as the “ward.” Similar to guardianship is conservatorship, which gives the “conservator” the ability to make financial decisions on behalf of another person.
New York courts might assign a guardian and/or conservator to any person who does not have the capacity to make decisions for him or herself — such as the elderly, young children, and mentally and physically incapacitated persons. The cases can become more complicated if disagreeing family members start to battle over who should become the guardian or conservator of a particular relative.
At Weinstein Randisi, we help individuals establish guardianship and conservatorship in cases involving incapacitated individuals and/or children who do not already have an assigned guardians and conservators. We also help guardians and conservators prepare for the day when they may not be able to care for their dependents by including appropriately naming successor guardians or conservators in their estate documentation.