New Yorkers with concerns about loved ones and want to make certain they are taken care of when they are incapable of taking care of themselves should understand the alternatives they have under the law. One method is through a guardianship. This is especially important when it involves senior citizens who might need long-term care. Having a grasp about the basics of a guardianship is a fundamental aspect in any situation. As always, legal help is also a critical aspect of ensuring an elderly and infirm loved one is cared for.

With a guardianship, a person can make decisions on another’s behalf if that person cannot do so themselves. It is for children, incapacitated adults and the developmentally disabled. There are several courts that oversee guardianship in New York. They are Family Court, Surrogate’s Court, and the Supreme Court. The type of guardianship that is requested will dictate the applicable court.

The guardian will be appointed and make the decisions. He or she must be at 18 or older and a legal resident or U.S. citizen to be a guardian. Those who have a criminal record are excluded from being a guardian. It is up to the judge to decide who is approved as a guardian. The person for whom the guardian makes decisions is the ward. The ward might or might not be able to communicate or have the cognitive ability to decide on his or her own.

Guardians can be for a person, property, the person and property, or a guardian ad litem. Guardians decide on health care, education, welfare, how property is handled, money matters, and more. A judge assigns the guardian ad litem when the person is unable to defend their rights and cannot protect their interests. When a family has determined that an elderly loved one needs guardianship, doing so legally and through the right channels is vital. A law firm that handles elder law cases is integral and should be called immediately for help.