Who Needs a Legal Guardian in New York and Why?

Who Needs a Legal Guardian in New York and Why?

Scott Dylan Westerlund
Scott Dylan Westerlund
 | 

Have you been following the recent Free Britney movement that’s trending online? According to passionate Britney Spears fans, the iconic pop star is trapped in an unfair conservatorship in which her father is still her legal guardian.

How is it possible that a legal adult isn’t in control of their own finances or medical care? It all has to do with laws surrounding legal guardianship. In New York, certain individuals aren’t legally allowed to make their own important life decisions. Instead, their legal guardians are in charge of their lives. So, who needs a legal guardian in New York, and why would someone be placed under a legal guardianship? Find out all the answers below.

1. Minors (Article 17 Guardianship)

By law, children who are under the age of 18 aren’t capable of making their own financial, medical, or legal decisions. Instead, those decisions are left to the minor’s parent or parents. In New York, individuals who are at least 17 and married or in the military are considered legal adults.

Minors, however, need a parent or legal guardian to make decisions for them. When a child’s parent becomes incapacitated, passes away, or otherwise can’t make decisions for the minor, a legal guardian must be assigned to the child. Article 17 guardianship is obtained through either the Family Court or a Surrogate Court in New York. A legal guardian can also be named in a parent’s will.

Once a child turns 18-years-old, they are no longer in need of a legal guardian. The law will consider the person a legal adult who is capable of making their own decisions.

2. Disabled Adults (Article 17-A Guardianship)

Once a child reaches 18, they’re considered a legal adult. What happens if that person has intellectual or developmental disabilities, though? In these situations, you’ll want to petition the Surrogate’s Court for an Article 17-A guardianship.

 

This type of arrangement requires that the individual is deemed disabled by either one psychologist and one physician or two physicians. These experts must specifically state that the person isn’t able to manage their own affairs.

3. Incapacitated Adults (Article 81 Guardianship)

Once a child turns 18 in New York, the legal system sees them as an adult. They’re given the right to break free from their parents and start making their own life choices. Sometimes, though, an illness, injury, or condition can leave them incapacitated. In these situations, they may not be competent enough to make decisions about finances or medical care.

When that’s the case in New York, loved ones can petition the courts for an Article 81 guardianship. This type of legal arrangement is only granted by the Supreme Court in New York. Often, these arrangements are very specific. The legal guardian is granted specific rights and powers over the incapacitated adult’s life. In some states, Article 81 guardianship is also called a conservatorship.

Why Are Legal Guardians Important?

Legal guardians are important because they protect the rights, finances, and lives of individuals who are incapable of making good decisions for themselves. Incapacitated adults, minors, and individuals with significant mental or physical disabilities are vulnerable. To avoid getting taken advantage of, it’s a good idea for courts to appoint a guardian.

In the case of Britney Spears, courts found that she was considered an incapacitated adult due to a serious mental breakdown in 2007. Her breakdown did lead to a few involuntary temporary psychiatric holds, and her father does claim the pop star has dementia. If there’s any truth to these medical concerns, then it makes sense that courts appointed Britney Spears’ father as the sole legal guardian over her finances.

Who Needs a Legal Guardian in New York?

The three main categories include minors, incapacitated adults, and adults with disabilities. Legal guardianship is crucial because it helps protect vulnerable populations.

Do you have more questions about legal guardianship in New York? Are you interested in taking the legal steps necessary to become someone’s legal guardian? Before you move forward, it’s a good idea to speak with an attorney. Head over to our lawyer search section to find an attorney in your area now.


This article is intended to convey generally useful information only and does not constitute legal advice. Any opinions expressed are solely those of the author, not LawChamps.

Scott Dylan Westerlund

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