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Overview of guardianships in New York

Many people in the Rochester area recognize as they continue to age that one day, they will not be able to continue to handle their own financial affairs without some assistance. In some cases, the person may not even be able to make sound decisions about their own living arrangements and basic needs.

While proper estate planning, such as executing powers of attorney that have been well thought out and carefully drafted, can resolve many of these issues, sometimes a guardianship will be necessary in order to provide for an aging loved one or, at least, his or her property. Those reading this blog should be forewarned, though, that guardianship may be a decision made by their loved ones, so it is important to make one's wishes known well prior to becoming unable to do so.

Basically, a guardianship is an order issued by a New York court that gives a person power to make decisions about the living arrangements and property of an adult who simply cannot make such decisions for himself or herself anymore. Other types of guardianships, such as one over a minor child, are available as well.

The person who holds the decision-making power, however, does not have unlimited rights to do whatever he or she wants. He or she must follow the court's orders and must not do what he or she does not have express or implied permission to do under the terms of the order and New York law. Moreover, the guardian will be full accountable to the court and to other interested parties for the guardian's decisions.

Courts are very careful when granting guardianships over adults, as such actions are have the potential for abuse and, in fact, often are vehicles unscrupulous people use to take advantage of others. There almost certainly will be a full evidentiary hearing before a court grants the guardianship. Also, the court will likely send an appointed expert visit the adult to make sure he or she really needs a guardian. For these reasons, it is advisable to have guardianship assistance from an experienced Rochester elder law attorney.

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