Guardianship in New York 

Guardians are individuals who assume responsibility and care for individuals who cannot do so themselves. The process of assuming guardianship can be challenging. In order to start the process of assuming guardianship in New York, a person should start getting to know the person for whom they are going to be a guardian, reading up on what they have to do, taking the mandatory guardianship course, and speaking to people as to what their responsibilities are.

Any person desirous of becoming a guardian should retain an experienced lawyer who will file a petition for guardianship with the court and prepare all necessary paperwork.

Designation of Guardianship

An individual’s inability to make decisions is best proven by the testimony of people who know the individual or have observed the individual, who can state they are unable to make proper decisions on their own behalf. The court will also require the testimony of medical efforts. If there is a relative that cannot handle their own affairs, someone might want to become a guardian of that person. guardianship is granted by the court. If a person wants to pursue guardianship in New York for an adult, they must take a video course and receive instruction as part of the process.

The court and only the court can appoint a guardian. A person can designate a party in a will that they would prefer to have appointed guardian of minor children if something happened to the parents. The court will normally follow that selection if a person is found to be a responsible person. If it turns out that that person has, for example, become a drug addict or is not a responsible person, the court will not appoint that person as a guardian.

Different Kinds of Guardians

There are different kinds of guardians, based on the different kinds of wards, and their needs. There are guardians for people who care for adults who are incapacitated, mentally or otherwise; Guardians for minor children who are under the age of 18 and need representation for some reason. Guardians are appointed by the court. There are guardians for minors who are people under 18 or who are mentally unable to handle their affairs. So there are Guardians for incapacitated adults, children, and incapacitated children.


Conservators do not exist in New York at this time, but in the past, they handled the financial affairs of an incapacitated person, while the guardian cared for the person themselves. The guardianship statute has blended the task of the conservator into that of the guardian, so there are no more conservators. A conservator was someone that just took care of the financial aspects of the ward.


Guardians of minors have to take care of the child/minor and make sure everything is done to the extent possible for their benefit. If someone is the guardian of another adult, they have the same responsibility. The guardian would take care of the affairs of the adult and make sure that the taxes are paid, that their housing is sufficient, etc.

Every year a guardian must submit a report to the court as to the financial matters of the ward (the person who they are the guardian of). A well-being report also needs to be submitted to update the Court as to the status of Ward and that his needs are being attended to.

Termination of Guardianship

If it is a child/minor guardianship, it could terminate when the child becomes 18. If the guardianship was because of a physical disability, the person may just get better; the same with a mental disability. Sometimes, with or without treatment, people become stable. In that instance, they could petition the court to vacate the guardianship. The court will hold a hearing and determine if the person is capable of handling their own affairs and, if so, vacate the guardianship.

In order to terminate a guardianship in New York, the ward would have to petition the court to vacate the guardianship, stating the reasons why the guardianship is no longer needed, and request the court to terminate the guardianship.

Role of a Lawyer

If an individual wants to pursue guardianship in New York, the help of a lawyer is indispensable.When petitioning, the role of the attorney is to gather information, complete the necessary forms, and advise you as to how to present the required information to the court. If necessary, they can arrange for you to meet with a psychiatrist or a physician with psychiatric training, who will attest to the fact that the person needs a guardian.