A guardian in New York cannot force a person to take psychiatric medication against their will unless very strict legal processes are followed, which includes approval from a judge.

This post discusses how to legally compel a person to take psychiatric medication both inside and outside the context of guardianship so that guardians in New York are aware of the tools at their disposal. 

First, the guardian can petition the court to hold a Rivers hearing. In a Rivers hearing the judge will follow strict criteria to determine whether an incapacitated person can be required to take psychotropic medication.

Second, the guardian can consider utilizing Mental Hygiene Law (“MHL”) Article 9, but the guardian would not be petitioning in their capacity as guardian.

Continue Reading Can a Guardian Force Their Ward to Take Psychiatric Medication?

If you’ve been appointed a guardian or conservator in a state other than New York, but are seeking to exercise your powers as guardian in New York State, you’ll need to register various papers in New York first (unless you petition anew). Otherwise, you won’t have the legal authority to exercise your powers as guardian in the Empire State. 

I’m a big fan of checklists. This step-by-step guide makes the process easier.

Continue Reading How to Register an Out-of-State Guardianship in New York

Two United States Senators last week called on the heads of two federal agencies to provide data and information on adult guardianship and conservatorships, as the media directs national attention to the controversial conservatorship of pop superstar Britney Spears.

In an open letter to Xavier Becerra, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Merrick Garland, Attorney General of the U.S. Department of Justice, Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA) gave the Secretary and A.G. until July 14, 2021 to provide information on data systems in place for officials at the agencies to access information regarding:

Continue Reading U.S. Senators Draw Attention to Lack of Guardianship Data as Britney Spears Conservatorship Controversy Gains National Attention

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. But that doesn’t mean New Yorkers can’t refuse medical treatment and die on their own terms. It also doesn’t mean that guardians can’t refuse medical treatment on behalf of their wards. To refuse life-sustaining treatment, however, guardians will need to have the legal power to do so in the Order & Judgment appointing them guardian.

So when a guardian must start making end-of-life decisions for their ward, what do they do? What’s the first step? How do guardians make sure the decisions they make are ethical, legal, and authorized?

What follows is a system for Mental Hygiene Law article 81 guardians in New York to use when making end-of-life decisions for their ward in a hospital or nursing home setting. Remember, every case is different, with unique facts and circumstances. This guide is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not legal advice, and certainly not medical advice.

Continue Reading End-of-Life Decision Making for Article 81 Guardians

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 of incapacity. It does not disturb the court’s authority to choose the powers of the guardian.

Continue Reading PING Designation Does Not Mean Less Power for the Guardian