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The Court Evaluator In New York Guardianship Cases

When a petition is filed with the Guardianship Court to commence a Guardianship proceeding, the Court will sign an Order to Show Cause. The form of this Order is set forth in New York Mental Hygiene Law (MHL) Section 81.07. Among the many items of information that are contained in the Order such as the time and place of the Guardianship Hearing, the Court will also typically appoint and name a Court Evaluator. As stated in MHL Section 81.07 part of the language in the Order advises the Alleged Incapacitated Person (“AIP”) that the “Court has appointed a court evaluator to explain this proceeding to you and investigate the claims made in the application.” A New York City guardianship lawyer can further discuss the role of a Court Evaluator.

MHL Section 81.09 provides the details regarding the appointment of a Court Evaluator. The role of the Evaluator is sometimes misunderstood by people in New York City and elsewhere in the State of New York. The Evaluator does not represent any party in the manner an attorney would although the Court Evaluator is very often an attorney. The Evaluator is a Court appointee whose task is to investigate and review the different aspects and details regarding the Guardianship application and then make a written report along with recommendations to the Court. MHL 81.09(c) sets forth nine (9) areas or items that are the duties that the Evaluator must fulfill. Among other things the Evaluator will meet with the AIP as well as all other necessary persons in the case and attend all of the Court proceedings. In addition to representing clients as a guardianship lawyer in New York City, I have served as a Court Evaluator in many cases.

The role of the Court Evaluator is very important because he actually serves as the eyes and ears of the Court regarding a thorough review of the details in the case. While the Guardianship Judge is not bound by the recommendations of the Evaluator, most Courts give great consideration to the Court Evaluator’s suggestions. This is so because the Evaluator has typically taken a close look at the circumstances of the case. Sometimes the Evaluator may report that the AIP is not incapacitated and does not need a Guardian. In other situations, the Evaluator may recommend that someone other than the petitioner be appointed as Personal Needs or Property Management Guardian.

MHL 81.09 also provides that the Court may direct the Court Evaluator be paid a fee for their services. Typically, this fee is paid from the AIP’s funds. However, when the Court does not appoint a Guardian, the Judge may direct that the fee be paid by the petitioner.

Another important function of the Evaluator is to determine whether the AIP wants to have attorney representation. MHL Section 81.09 makes reference to MHL Section 81.10 which provides additional guidance regarding the appointment of legal counsel for the AIP. Under this section the Court must appoint an attorney to represent the AIP if the AIP requests such representation or if the AIP opposes the appointment of a Guardian or other type of relief.

Contested Guardianship cases can be complicated and often involve issues of intra-family disputes regarding the AIP’s assets and appropriate care. If you have any questions or issues for a New York City attorney regarding a Guardianship matter, call me for a free review. I can be reached at (212) 355-2575 or email.

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