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Mental Incapacity

What's the Definition of Mental Incapacity & How Does it Impact Guardianship?

The law operates on the assumption that adult individuals have capacity, meaning that they are capable of making decisions concerning their financial and personal needs and so are best situated to make decisions on their own behalf. Mental incapacity definition is important, as a New York City guardianship lawyer can explain.

In New York, in the 1990’s, the state revisited its Guardianship statutes; including reviewing the definition of mental incapacity, instituting procedural safeguards for the alleged incapacitated person, and imposing greater judicial scrutiny of the acts of Guardians. The result has been the creation of a new form of Guardianship, and a greater judicial sensitivity to the need to balance the protection of individuals with diminished capacity against their right to autonomy and self-determination.   The appointment of a Guardian is a very serious matter.  In a very significant way, the appointment deprives a person of the freedom to make his own decisions regarding healthcare and financial matters.  However, it may be very necessary when, due to diminished capacity, a person would suffer harm without assistance.

In determining whether to appoint a Guardian for a person's personal needs or financial management, a Court will examine a person's functional ability and any harm that may result from a person's functional limitations.  In situations where a Guardian is needed, the Court will shape the appointment to a person's needs and limit the Guardian's powers so the Guardianship will be as limited as possible.   An alleged incapacitated person has the right to oppose the appointment of a Guardian.  The Court will appoint an attorney to represent the alleged incapacitated person in Court.  The name of the attorney is provided in the Order to Show Cause or in a separate court order.

Article 81 of the Mental Hygiene Law ("MHL") contains dozens of separate provisions concerning a Guardianship case.  Section 81.01 of the MHL is entitled "Legislative Findings and purpose".  This section is important since it sets forth the purpose of the law as being focused  on the needs of each individual person who is subjected to a Guardianship petition.  The statute emphasizes that the needs of the person must be examined in each instance and that restrictions on the person's rights will be imposed only as needed.  The law seeks to maintain the independence of the incapacitated person as much as possible.

As a guardianship lawyer, I have both commenced and defended proceedings on behalf of clients in New York City.  I have also assisted family members and friends while advancing the interests of individuals who may be in need of assistance due to incapacities resulting from, illness, age or medical conditions.

I have represented many individuals and family members in Guardianship cases. I have been involved in Queens Guardianship cases and Brooklyn Guardianship cases.  Also, on numerous occasions I have served as Court Evaluator reporting to the Court  concerning the appointment of a Guardian.  Call me now if you have a Guardianship question for a New York City attorney.  

For personalized attentive service, please call (212) 355-2575 or visit me at 845 Third Avenue, Suite 1400 in New York City.

Client Reviews
I am very grateful to Mr. Jules Martin Haas attorney of law in New York. I am from Buenos Aires Argentina. He managed with expertise a very difficult situation. of a complicate heritage from my aunt Anna Grodzka that lived and died a very long time ago in New York. I recommend him not only for his extraordinary knowledge but also for his kindness. Irma CW Peusner
I found Mr. Haas after being misguided by a former attorney. Mr. Jules Haas took our case which involved an estate/trust dispute. What initially seemed like an impossible and overwhelming legal fight was now in the hands of someone who had the integrity and legal expertise to win our case. Mr Haas' attention to detail and his expert knowledge base, skillfully and successfully guided us through an intricate legal process. I am very thankful and grateful to Mr. Jules Haas for representing our interest and ultimately winning. Bringing about a peace of mind we needed. Thank You Devida Nedd
I was in need of a guardianship attorney and I hired the services of Jules M. Haas' Law firm. The service of counselor Haas and his staff, was very profesional and the case was handled in a timely matter. I would strongly recommend his services Angel Guevara
I strongly recommend Jules Haas. I have worked with him for two years and he has provided so much support and followed through with everything he promised he would do. His support staff is just as helpful! We had an interesting case and he helped to solve each part of it legally and was very thorough. Thank you for everything you have done to finalize our families estate Robyn Stafford
Jules Haas helped me with managing the process in probate court for my father's estate through to its completion upon the sale of my father's house. He was knowledgeable, efficient, and effective in submitting documentation to the probate court, explaining procedures to me, and advising me as to the progress of my case. His support staff was also very helpful. He made what for me created so much anxiety into something manageable where I could see progress every step of the way. His fees were very reasonable. I am super grateful to him for all the help he has provided and strongly recommend his services. Diana Janer
I just completed an estate transaction where Jules Haas represented my client in an estate and he did a great job! He was very quick at responding to all matters throughout the sale process, he was detailed, he was knowledgeable and he was a pleasure to work with. I just recommended him to some new clients who are going through an estate matter and will continue to recommend him. Rodolfo Lucchese