New law requires guidelines for visitation rights and end-of-life notification for people under guardianship

July 28, 2016


Dear Friends,

As a staff attorney at The Legal Aid Society's Brooklyn Office for the Aging, by far the most contentious guardianship proceeding that I handled was one in which one member of a large family was accused of preventing his many siblings from visiting their elderly mother.  That long and unpleasant court case showed me just how important visitation rights are in the context of an adult guardianship.  

Peter Falk's Law, signed by Governor Cuomo a week ago (click here to read the Governor's press release), recognizes the importance of visitation and aims to protect family members' and others' right to visit incapacitated loved ones, as well as their right to be notified when illness and death occur.  When Columbo actor Peter Falk became ill, his children complained that his spouse prevented them from visiting him in the hospital.  And after he died, his kids were not notified about his funeral arrangements.  The new law requires judges who are appointing guardians to oversee the care of ill people to identify all of those individuals, children, and other relatives who are entitled to notice of the incapacitated person's death, funeral, and burial arrangements. The law also allows the judge appointing a guardian to identify those persons who are entitled to visit the incapacitated person.  

To read a discussion of guardianship resources in NYC, click here for a blog post on the subject that I wrote last summer.

All the best,