Guardianship Blog

Conservatorship and Guardianship in New York

The terms “conservatorship” and “guardianship” are often used interchangeably. However, some states explicitly separate the two, while others favor one over the other. New York, for example, utilizes a guardianship system, which is detailed in Article 81 of its Mental Hygiene Law.


A guardian is a court-appointed fiduciary who is responsible for ensuring that the needs of a child or incapacitated adult are met. In New York, adults who can no longer manage their personal or financial affairs due to mental or physical impairment are considered legally incapacitated. Article 81 of New York’s Mental Hygiene Law provides courts with the authority to appoint guardians to assist such individuals. While the age and condition of the child or adult will dictate the functions performed by his or her guardian, the following duties typically fall under the purview of guardians in New York:

  • Bill payment
  • Medical care arrangement
  • Activities of daily living assistance
  • Home care management
  • Prevention of financial and physical abuse
  • Tax planning

While the duties above will vary depending on the age and condition of the ward, there are certain duties and responsibilities that all guardians are required to fulfill under New York law. These specific duties and responsibilities include:

  • Filing of a final report upon the guardianship’s termination
  • Attendance at a 6-hour course that outlines the duties of New York guardians
  • Visitation with the ward at least 4 times per year
  • Filing of an initial report within 90 days of appointment by the court
  • Filing of an annual report by a specified due date

New York Legal Representation

If a family member or loved one is currently suffering from mental or physical impairment, please contact the experienced elder law attorneys at O’Connell and Aronowitz for a free initial consultation.

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