What Should I Expect At A Guardianship Hearing?
As adults grow older, they may reach a point when their health prevents them from properly caring for themselves. Under the Mental Hygiene Act, a guardian can be appointed to help an incapacitated adult manage their affairs and ensure that their needs are met. The guardian will be given legal authority to act on the person’s behalf in some matters, and the court oversees this process to make sure it is handled properly to protect the person’s interests.
Before a guardianship hearing takes place, the presiding judge will appoint a court evaluator to assess the alleged incapacitated person’s situation. The evaluator will confirm whether there is clear evidence that the person needs assistance and advise on which areas the guardian should be granted authority, such as decisions related to finances, housing or health care. While the evaluation is an important first step, it does not preclude the necessity of a hearing.
Court Evaluates Respondent’s Competency
A loved one who wishes to assume guardianship must file a petition with the court to schedule a hearing, which specifies whether they are seeking guardianship of the person, the estate or both. Once a petition has been filed and a hearing is scheduled, the alleged incapacitated person, known as the respondent, has 14 days to respond. Typically, the respondent is expected to appear unless it is likely that they will suffer harm if they attend.
Both the petitioner and the respondent have the right to be represented by counsel and bring forth witnesses, which often include health care providers, social workers, family members or other caregivers. Through their testimony, the court will establish the nature and extent of any disabilities the respondent has, either mental or physical, and the impact of those disabilities. The court will assess the respondent’s ability to make responsible decisions regarding the management of their person and finances. They will also examine the petitioner’s plan for the management of their affairs and its appropriateness for the respondent’s situation.
A guardianship hearing can be a straightforward process, but there are several factors that can complicate it, particularly if the respondent does not want a guardian or there is disagreement over who the guardian should be. The respondent has the right to request a jury of six peers to weigh in on the decision. Additionally, if the respondent already has a power of attorney in place, this will often supersede the petition for guardianship. Having an experienced elder law attorney by your side can help ensure that you and your family receive the best possible outcome.
Our Guardianship Lawyers Guide Clients Through Complex Guardianship Issues
The Brooklyn guardianship lawyers at Korsinsky & Klein, LLP, have the knowledge and experience to help families in all types of guardianship cases. We understand that every family is different, and we provide tailored solutions to ensure that seniors’ interests are protected. With offices conveniently located in Brooklyn, New York, and Lakewood, New Jersey, we provide comprehensive representation in guardianship hearings throughout Manhattan, Long Island and Westchester, New York. Call us today at 212-257-0199or contact us online for an initial consultation.