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Court Questions Appointment of Guardian ad Litem


This case is not about estate litigation but about the petition of a guardian in Vermont County for ancillary committee designation covering the properties of his ward in New York County. The Guardian ad Litem in New York questioned the appointment of the petitioner as guardian of the old woman who was declared an incompetent due to old age and sickness and who is also a known resident of New York with substantial assets and properties therein. The guardian ad litem in particular questioned the proceedings conducted by the Court of Vermont County. He also poised an issue whether the New York court should assume jurisdiction and whether a resident committee should be assigned to act on behalf of the old woman with regards to her properties in New York. The question was also raised about the propriety of the petitioner particularly on how he became the guardian of the old woman.

A New York Probate Lawyer said that before the petitioner was assigned by the Vermont court as a guardian, he first acted under a general power of attorney for the old woman. This involved paying her dues and managing her finances that included signing checks for the old woman who is already suffering from mental illness. The Vermont County appointed the petitioner as guardian under the application made by the niece of the old woman and it started when the court required the appearance of the old woman to a probate hearing. Since the old woman is already bed-ridden and could no longer move around much less travel, the niece who is residing in Canada decided to apply to the court that the petitioner be appointed as guardian-adult which application was granted by the court of Vermont County. Upon appointment as guardian or committee, the petitioner then applied to a New York Court as ancillary committee covering all the properties of the old woman in New York.

In deciding the issues raised by the guardian ad litem, the court answered the same point by point. On the issue of whether the Court of Vermont County has jurisdiction over the person of the old woman who is a known resident of New York the court said that the findings of the Vermont court is not binding and this also applies to the appointment of a guardian. The Supreme Court of New York however also said that the proceeding in Vermont is not invalid totally and that there is reason to agree based on the findings of the Vermont court as testified by witnesses during the proceedings in that court, that the old woman is indeed no longer capable of managing her affairs due to old age and mental sickness.

As to the recommendation of the guardian ad litem, the court also assumed jurisdiction under Mental Hygiene Law. With regards to the application of the petitioner to become ancillary committee in the estate administration, the Supreme Court said that even though the appointment given to him by the Vermont court is valid, the same does not necessarily dictate his appointment as ancillary committee in the State of New York. New York City Probate Lawyers said the Tribunal instead decided that a resident guardian be appointed as committee in the State of New York to look after and manage the estate of the old woman. The court reasoned that this must be the case because the old woman has substantial properties and other assets in the State, that she was a New York resident and there was no evidence that she actually changed her residence, and to avoid possible conflict of interest on the part of the petitioner. The court directed the appointment of a New York committee and not an ancillary committee with the petitioner as a co-committee having in mind that it will serve the best interest of the old woman.

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