In the State of New York, Article 81 of the Mental Hygiene Law addresses issues of personal and property management needs for those individuals who suffer from mental and physical incapacities. A guardian may be appointed by law to mind either the personal affairs or property affairs, or both, of an individual as determined through a guardianship proceeding. As mandated by state statute, courts seek to impose over an individual guardianship powers that are the least restrictive.

The potential or actual need for a guardianship raises many sensitive issues involving family, caregivers, and the legal system.