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The Court Evaluator is not only a critical player in an article 81 guardianship proceeding, its role is unique to all other court proceedings. The Court Evaluator is frequently described as the “eyes and ears of the court”. Their job, in essence, is that of an investigator, tasked with gathering detailed information about the case to assist the Court in reaching its decision as to whether a guardian should be appointed.  The Court Evaluator is…
Adult guardianship proceedings reveal to complete strangers some of the most intimate and personal details of a person’s life. “Guardianship proceedings are unique and different from most other forms of litigation since the respondent, the individual haled into court against their will because she or he is alleged to be ‘incapacitated’, is not accused of wrongdoing or fault,” wrote Justice Gary F. Knobel in Matter of Amelia G.  The rules governing public access to Mental…
Among the many difficult decisions guardians make for their wards are end-of-life decisions. Guardians often must make a judgment call about their ward’s life, especially if their incapacitated ward is in a hospital or nursing home. If their ward’s preferences and wishes about end-of-life treatment are unknown, the guardian must act in their ward’s “best interests”. In New York, assisted suicide is not an option. Period. Not for anyone. Not for guardians.…
Court evaluators are not parties to a Mental Hygiene Law article 81 guardianship proceeding, and it matters. Court evaluators, known as the “eyes and ears” of the court,  are essential actors in a guardianship proceeding, but they are not a party to the proceeding. Parties to the proceeding include the petitioner and the alleged incapacitated person (AIP). This matters not only in a theoretical sense, but in a practical sense.…
If a petition to appoint a guardian is dismissed in a Mental Hygiene Law (MHL) Article 81 proceeding, the statute on its face permits the court to direct the petitioner to pay the fees of the Court Evaluator and Court-Appointed Counsel to the Alleged Incapacitated Person (AIP). The statute says nothing about the petitioner’s motives. It sets forth no requirement that there be an absence of bad faith before authorizing the court to require petitioner…
Guardianship doesn’t last forever. The Incapacitated Person (IP) could die, regain capacity, or move out of the country, among other reasons. Sometimes, the guardianship doesn’t end, but the guardian needs to resign. When this happens, the guardian must be discharged by the Court. At first, the discharge process may seem complicated or confusing. But, like anything, practice makes perfect. Below is a simple, and general, step-by-step overview of the discharge process in a Mental Hygiene…
There is a common misconception among adult guardianship attorneys, even some of the most experienced, that a PING designation in an Article 81 guardianship proceeding equates to less power for the guardian than an Incapacitated Person (IP) designation. An PING (an abbreviation for a Person in Need of a Guardian) is an Alleged Incapacitated Person (AIP) who consents to the appointment of a guardian. The consent of the AIP takes the place of the finding…