Elder Law & Special Needs
When a disabled child reaches 18 in NY, his parents can no longer make decisions for him. A Guardian and Conservator (GC) (who can be the parents) must be appointed to make decisions regarding the child’s welfare; to apply for benefits or to keep them in force, or to manage their money. This requires filings with the court, doctor’s report and reports from the people the court appoints to be certain assistance is needed. Once appointed C must account to the court at least every 3 years. We have handled numerous GC proceedings, uncontested and contested, requiring examination of witnesses, including doctors with differing opinions and family members with personal agendas.
Sometimes an elderly person develops psychological conditions such as Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, or illnesses, such as Parkinson’s Disease or cancer, which prevent them from using their good judgment. In such a case, if there is no agent appointed under a POA, or if the agent is not acting in the best interests of the person, a petition must be filed to appoint someone to make decisions for the welfare of the person (the Guardian) and to manage the financial matters of the person (the Conservator).
When a person names an agent under a POA, both the person appointing the agent and the agent can act. If the principal can no longer make good decisions or is being pressured by the agent to give away money or to live in an unhealthy environment, an unscrupulous agent may get control of the money and control the principal’s life. The appointment of a GC can relieve the agent of his responsibilities.
We advise the principal or their caring family members is these situations and bring the matter to court for a quick resolution.
The GC can be avoided through the use of carefully crafted trusts naming a trusted person as trustee.
When I was 15, my father died of a heart attack. We lived in Brooklyn. My father had always taken care of the family finances, handing my mother cash each week to run the household.