Mental Hygiene Law Art. 81

What is Mental Hygiene Law Article 81?

The New York State Mental Hygiene Law Article 81 is the statute that provides the procedure for the appointment of a Guardian to handle a person's financial affairs or personal needs.

Along with guidelines for  the Court procedure, Article 81 sets forth the factors a Court will consider in deciding whether to appoint a Guardian and the powers that can be given to a Guardian to assist the incapacitated person.  The statute also has provisions covering Guardianship procedure.

The New York Guardianship Law was revised in 1993.  The revisions to the law provided that the Court could appoint a Guardian for property management and a Guardian for personal needs.  Prior to the revision of the law, the proceedings were identified as involving the appointment of a conservator or a committee.

Another important aspect of the change in the law is that the Court's focus is now on the alleged incapacitated person's ability to function.  Also, the new law allows the Court to craft the relief it grants such as the powers of the Guardian to accommodate the incapacitated person's actual needs.  There is now a recognition that a standard cookie cutter type of approach to each case is not in the best interest of the person being subjected to Guardianship control.  New York Guardianship attorneys are familiar with the procedures under the current law.  Guardianship lawyers recognize that a Court will try to find the least restrictive form of control over the incapacitated person.  During the Court proceedings the Court will receive written evidence and witness testimony that will help the Court determine the extent to which an alleged incapacitated person needs assistance handling his affairs.

Guardianship proceedings under Article 81 can be litigious, with friends or relatives contesting the need for a Guardian or who should be appointed as a Guardian or the powers the Guardian is to receive.  The alleged incapacitated person himself or herself has the right to, and many times does, oppose these proceedings.  If the alleged incapacitated person does not want a Guardian, the Court will appoint an attorney to represent him in the proceedings.

Sometimes, a Guardianship may be needed when a person who is incapacitated is victimized or manipulated by others.  In emergency situations a Court can appoint a Temporary Guardian and can immediately restrain or freeze an incapacitated person's bank accounts or other assets to preserve them until the Court can fully review the matter.

I have represented many clients in Mental Hygiene Law Article 81 Guardianship proceedings throughout the New York Courts such as Queens Guardianship Court or Brooklyn Guardianship Court.  I have also been appointed by the Court as a Court Evaluator.  A Court Evaluator is a person who reviews information in a Guardianship case and gives the Court a report. 

I work closely with my clients in these proceedings to promote their interests while advancing the interests and protections of the person alleged to be incapacitated.  If you have a question concerning a Guardianship, call me now to discuss your issue.

I graduated in the top 10% of my class at The New England School of Law in Boston and served on the prestigious “Law Review.” I have also served on the staff of a NYC Councilperson and NYS Assemblyman.

If you are interested in speaking with me about Mental Hygiene Law Article 81 Guardianships,  please call (212) 355-2575 or e-mail