Growing older is a natural part of life, but as people age, they may struggle with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease or other cognitive issues. These ailments affect their brain and lead to memory loss and problems performing tasks they were previously able to perform. As the symptoms worsen, people become less able to make decisions and care for themselves.

If a loved one is suffering from one of these conditions, you are likely concerned for his or her future. You may be considering the possibility of becoming your loved one’s guardian. Here is what you need to know about becoming a guardian of an incapacitated adult in New York.

What is guardianship?

A guardianship is when a guardian is legally appointed to make decisions regarding the care of another adult. The adult who needs care is known as the ward. The ward typically cannot make decisions regarding their health or financial welfare.

What decisions does a guardian make?

In New York, you can be appointed to be the guardian of a person, which means you make decisions regarding health care and welfare. You can also be appointed the guardian of another person’s property, which means you decide how to spend the ward’s money and what to do with his or her assets. You can also be appointed to be the guardian of both person and property. If you are applying to the guardian of an incapacitated adult, what decisions you are appointed to make will depend on the specific circumstances of your case.

How do you file for guardianship?

The first step toward guardianship is filing a petition with the court. Once you have filed a petition, a judge will appoint a court evaluator. The evaluator will meet with the person you are suggesting needs a guardian and investigate whether your petition seems valid. The evaluator will declare his or her findings to the court and make a recommendation about what type of guardianship, if any, that you should be allowed to establish.

If you think petitioning for guardianship of a loved one may be the right decision, you may consider reaching out to an experienced attorney. An attorney can help represent you and your loved one’s best interests through guardianship proceedings.