Guardianship Hearing in a Bedroom

guardianship lawyer on Long IslandBronx Supreme Court Justice Sharon Aarons started a hearing on a guardianship situation in her courtroom. The hearing was cut short and Judge Aarons and all of the other interested parties proceeded to travel to the home of Valerie L. to conduct an in home evaluation to determine whether her attorney was “chosen freely and independently by the alleged incapacitated person.”

Judge Aarons had initially set a hearing for November 25 and she had “explicitly directed that Valerie L. appear for the hearing.” When the alleged incapacitated person, Valerie L., did not appear at the hearing the judge moved the hearing to the bedroom of her home in Riverdale, NY.

Interview of Valerie

The judge had previously requested a court examiner interview Valerie. The court examiner, Mark Goldstein, had appeared at Valerie’s home on November 21. A home care nurse advised him that Valerie’s son had told her that the court examiner could not get into the home. The court examiner called the police to try to get entrance into the home to meet with Valerie. Valerie refused to meet with him.

Valerie’s Affidavit

Valerie had executed an affidavit several days later indicating she did not want to have a guardian appointed for her. The affidavit also stated she was satisfied with regard to her son’s management of her finances and she had been humiliated by the police coming to her house concerning the interview by the court examiner.

Judge Aarons stated in her opinion, “a person reading the affidavit would incorrectly receive the impression that the person making these recitations had a thorough comprehension of the facts and legal issues presented. This is far from the case.”

The Hearing

The hearing in Valerie’s bedroom was attended by 11 persons. Some were forced to sit on Valerie’s bed because there was not enough chairs. During the course of the hearing, the evidence indicated Valerie did not know who her daughter’s attorney was. She also did not have an understanding of the nature of the proceeding. She had no recollection of signing the affidavit, even though it had been executed only two days earlier. Valerie stated her son had hired the attorney to represent her.

Judge Aarons wrote in her decision, “while it may not be unusual for an attorney to be contacted or selected by a relative, it is unusual when the relative is the person charged with exerting undue influence, and with using his agency powers improperly for his own gain.”

Judge Aarons disqualified the attorney who had been retained on behalf of the son for his mother and the attorney for the woman’s daughter who had sought the appointment of a guardian. An independent guardian was appointed by the court.guardianship attorney in New York