What is a Guardianship Proceeding?

Silver Alert issued 9/5/14 at 8:31 A.M.

NYPD has issued a Silver Alert for the disappearance of John Smith, male, Hispanic, 68 years old, from East 205th Street and Grand Concourse in The Bronx. Mr. Smith suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. He is described as 5’7″ tall, 145 lbs., with gray hair. He was last seen wearing a white and green Polo shirt, tan khaki pants and black shoes. A photo is attached. If you see Mr. Smith, please call 9-1-1.


Have you ever seen one of these? Our phones and emails are full of alerts with disappearances of elderly people. They walk out of their apartments and don’t know where they are because they suffer from Alzheimer’s and/or dementia. Knowing that someone you love is out there and scared because they can no longer function properly can be frustrating and scary for the elderly person and his/her family. If their memory doesn’t work as well as it used to, how can they live from day to day, pay their bills, or remember to lock the front door? Luckily, there are procedures put in place to allow families to take control of the mentally disabled adult. Such procedures are called Guardianships.

An Introduction to Adult Guardianship

An Adult Guardianship occurs when a responsible person is chosen by the court to take care of an incapacitated adult who is not able to take care of himself.  An adult may be deemed incapacitated because of a disability, old age, or any other reason which precludes them from making their own decisions.

The responsibilities of the appointed individual may include making medical and health care decisions, managing property, paying bills, and deciding where their charge lives. It is the job of the court to decide who is best fit to take care of the person in need, to determine what the guardian’s responsibilities are going to be, and to take away guardianship rights if the appointed guardian is not doing their job right.

Differentiating Between Guardianship and Conservatorship

Conservatorship is similar to guardianship. Like with guardianship, conservatorship is a legal process through which a an individual is appointed by court to manage the affairs of an incapacitated person. However, guardians and conservators tend to have different responsibilities. While guardians are mostly responsible for medical, personal, and health-related needs, conservators mostly assist with managing property and financial needs and decisions, which may include paying bills, collecting debts, and handling the incapacitated person’s bank accounts, investments, and cash flow of assets.

Proceedings to protect your loved ones

If your loved one suffers from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, it is in every party’s best interest to deal with an attorney who is certified in Article 81 (Adult) Guardianships, such as Attorney Inna Fershteyn, so that the incapacitated adult’s needs can be met as soon as possible by the best person possible. If you are interested in becoming someone’s guardian or have more questions, do not hesitate to meet with New York Top Guardianship Attorney Inna Fershteyn.