The legal concept of a “legal guardianship” confers upon others, typically a loved one of the person needing the guardianship, the responsibility to make the right decisions on behalf of someone incapable of doing so on their own – typically a child but also an infirmed adult. These can be touchy and risky subjects, and often residents of nursing homes will need to assign a power of attorney or legal guardianship to a loved one who may suffer from increasing dementia or Alzheimer’s, or old age just simply leaves them unable to make these important decisions.
A Dangerous New Trend
In recent news in the state of New York, there is a disconcerting trend among nursing homes in the state that are taking advantage of legal guardianship powers in order to ensure patients make good on their bill payments. Legal guardianship in New York, as in other jurisdictions, is typically meant for someone who cannot manage their money or is incapacitated and cannot care for themselves or make important health decisions. In one case documented in the New York Times, a New York nursing home filed a guardianship petition in order to take over legal guardianship for a patient. Such power would include the ability to make important decisions, as well as to control that patient’s money.