Alison Arden Besunder, Esq., partner at Goetz Fitzpatrick LLP, recently obtained a favorable ruling in favor of the firm’s client, the husband of a woman alleged to be incapacitated and over whom a guardianship was sought pursuant to Mental Hygiene Law Article 81.
The Appellate Division, First Department unanimously reversed the lower court’s appointment of an independent Personal Needs and Property Guardian for refusing to allow the client to call witnesses, thereby depriving him of his right to present evidence, and failing to hold a full hearing as is required by statute. The Appellate Division also reversed an award of nearly $60,000 in fees to the court evaluator for failing to hold a hearing in the face of objections to the fee application and failing to provide a basis for the fee award. The court found that there had been no clear findings that the husband was unfit to serve as guardian. The Appellate Division remanded the matter for a new hearing before a different justice of the Supreme Court.