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Guardianship Lawyer in Staten Island Protecting the Best Interests of the Elderly, the Disabled and Children in New York

Guiding you through the process with care and experienced counsel

There are two forms of guardianship proceedings in New York. The first type, for developmentally disabled children or for children whose parents are deceased, is governed by the Surrogate’s Court.  The other form of guardianship is more complex and is litigated in the Supreme Court. I have been a pioneer in this type of guardianship proceeding under Mental Hygiene Law Article 81 since the law was enacted in 1993. In fact, having practiced under the former law, I have been in a unique position to evaluate and utilize the provisions of the law. I have learned to apply this law for the benefit of my clients, assisting parents with adult children who are mentally ill or otherwise disabled as well as people with an elderly or disabled adult relative. I am also able to use Article 81 to assist you if you were taken advantage of by someone close to you or you have no family and can no longer take care of yourself. If you do not name a guardian, the court will appoint a guardian for your children or elderly family member and can make decisions adverse to your ultimate parenting or caregiving goals.

Caring for a child

If you do not name a guardian in your will and both parents are deceased, the court will appoint a guardian for your children. Of course, taking the time to prepare a will and choose someone you know will follow your philosophy when it comes to child-rearing will allow you to rest assured your children are cared for in the event of a tragedy. If such a will is not prepared, and the children are left without a person to care for them, under Article 17 of the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act the court can choose a guardian for the children and safeguard any funds the children may have inherited from their parents. If you have an adult, disabled child, even though you are the child’s parent, a guardian must be appointed for the child once he or she reaches  the age of 18. Your failure to make this application can have serious repercussions on your ability to make decisions on your disabled adult child’s behalf, including housing and healthcare. Under Article 17-A of the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act, the Court can appoint you or your other child guardian so that there is no question regarding who can make decisions for your disabled adult child.

Caring for an incapacitated adult

At the Law Office of Gina-Marie Reitano, I can help you arrange for the care of an elderly parent or mentally ill family member through a proceeding under Article 81 of the Mental Hygiene Law.  A properly appointed guardian can make a significant difference to the overall well-being of a person who is incapacitated. You can nominate the guardian or the court may appoint someone from a list compiled by the Office of Court Administration. The person will manage the personal and financial affairs of a person who cannot handle his/her own affairs. The duties, rights and responsibilities of a guardian vary, depending on the particular situation. A guardian’s powers are specifically tailored to meet the needs of the incapacitated person. A guardian with full authority may be responsible for making all legal, financial and healthcare-related decisions for the incapacitated person and this may extend beyond the time that the guardianship was enacted.

Protecting the rights of legal guardians

Guardianship is a document-intensive process and can involve complex legal issues. If you are named the legal guardian of a family member or wish to establish a legal guardianship, I can assist you in all related matters:

  • Hearings to determine capacity
  • Setting up a trust for an adult family member with special needs who is under the age of 65
  • Arranging trusts or guardianship for a minor who is the beneficiary of a settlement
  • Making sure seniors receive all the financial benefits they are entitled to – Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, Medicare, Medicaid, disability, insurance and pensions
  • Annual reporting of expenses
  • Annual accounting or inventory of trust or guardianship assets
  • The discharging of the guardian at the end of the case (due to death, age of maturity or transfer of guardianship)
  • The retaining of necessary experts to comply with stringent reporting and accounting requirements

Appoint a guardian who cares ― and get an attorney who does, too

When you need an experienced attorney to help you with a guardianship legal matter, the Law Office of Gina-Marie Reitano is here to help you. Call Gina-Marie Reitano at 646-741-6556 to schedule a consultation, or contact me online. There is a consultation fee of $350 that is applied to a retainer.


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