Why Guardianship

Qualified guardians provide personalized care and support people need to live with dignity

A growing number of older adults and adults with disabilities require direct services assistance to remain safe, independent, and engaged in their communities. Sometimes those who are without a family member or friend to assist them require a guardian who will oversee either their personal or property matters (or both).

However, it is often difficult for the courts to find a guardian for those who have no one and who have limited finances because of the current payment mechanisms for guardian compensation.

Also, there are other factors posing current challenges: the qualifications and the capacity of a potential guardian to serve a person well.

Qualified guardians will have the skill sets to provide comprehensive, multifaceted support across a wide spectrum of healthcare, homecare, housing, benefits, financial, and other needs. In addition, they should have the capacity to devote considerable resources and their time to adequately provide for a person’s multiple needs and to keep them out of an institutional setting.

Lay and Family Guardians

Oftentimes, it is a family member or friend who will serve as a guardian — also known as a lay or “non-professional” guardian. It is often these same persons who have been the primary caregiver for their loved one and who may also live with or near to them. Many family or friend guardians will also spend a lot of their time and energy tending to their loved one, sometimes at the expense of their lives, jobs, and careers.

It is also these family and friend guardians who, quite importantly, know the history of a person’s medical care, prescriptions, homecare, food preferences, dietary requirements, housing, public benefits, finances, and other needs — and it is their appointment that will allow a person to remain in their own home and to avoid placement in a nursing home or other institution.

This deeper knowledge makes a caring family member or friend the preferred option to serve as a guardian. The courts usually seek to appoint a family member or friend as a guardian, because a professional guardian (who may fulfill their role to the best of their abilities, and as per their fiduciary responsibilities), will not enter the guardianship relationship with the same degree of firsthand knowledge.

Qualified guardians will have the skill sets to provide comprehensive, multifaceted support across a wide spectrum of healthcare, homecare, housing, benefits, financial, and other needs.

However, family and friend guardians often find the circumstances of navigating all their formal guardianship responsibilities (including reporting responsibilities to the courts) to be quite challenging.

There is a need to provide better system-wide support to prepare family members or friends for the role of guardian — allaying the reliance on the use of public guardians and private attorneys, and in most instances, providing a better level of care for a person in need of a guardian.

See Lays and Family Guardians site section of Guardianship in New York

See Training and Educational Supports

See Resources

Growing Need for Guardianship Services

As the population and baby boomers age, the number of people in need of a guardian is expected to increase substantially, exacerbated by socioeconomic factors that have increased the number of elderly poor, especially women.

Like much of the country, New York City’s population is aging rapidly; so fast that by 2030, the number of city seniors will outnumber school-age children. Over the next two decades, the number of city residents 65 and older is expected to increase by approximately 35% and reach 1.3 million seniors in 2030.

In New York City, the number of guardianship petitions is also on the rise. In addition, there has been a recent uptick in the number of guardianship requests from the courts for a younger (aged 20 to 60) population of persons living with mental illness.