The Initial & Annual Reports
All guardians must regularly report to the court. These reports give the court information about your ward and how well you are taking care of your ward’s affairs, what your plans are for your ward, how much money your ward has, and anything else that gives the judge a good sense that your ward is well cared for. The reports must be written in a court approved form. Copies of forms are located in Resources and additional copies can be obtained from the Guardianship Part or the Court Clerk in your courthouse.
- The Initial Report is the first report you must write 90 days after you received your Commission. This report is meant to be a picture or “snapshot” of your ward’s situation at the beginning of the guardianship. (Click here for a sample an Initial Report.)
- The Annual Report, sometimes called the “Annual Accounting” is always due in May and covers the previous calendar year from January 1 through December 31. The period between the Initial Report and the Annual Report is the time in which you continue to care for your ward according to the judge’s orders and the plans you outlined in your Initial Report. (Click here for a sample of an Annual Report.)
What Information Must Be Included In The Reports?
The judge will want to know that your ward is in good hands and that you are doing everything for your ward the way the judge had ordered. When you prepare to write your reports, you should first re-read the Order and Judgment so that you know exactly what the judge has given you the power to do and then start filling in the sections listed in the report forms. (This is the time where you will find that you will greatly benefit from having made personal notes and having kept receipts and all statements, invoices and bills.)
|NOTE: Most guardians find that some sections of the report forms are not relevant in their particular ward’s case. If you don’t fill out a section because it does not apply, you should write in that section the words: NOT APPLICABLE. Never leave a section in the form blank.
Asking For Reimbursement of Your “Out-Of-Pocket” Expenses
In your reports you may ask for reimbursement of expenses you have paid out of your own funds on behalf of your ward. Below are some examples of expenses for which you may be reimbursed, but you can only get reimbursed if you kept the receipts and if your ward has assets.
- Lost wages while you were taking care of your ward’s affairs
- The fee you paid to attend the required guardianship training
Taxi fares, gas, mileage, or parking for your car to take your ward to the doctor or any other appointment
- The cost to photocopy papers and have them certified
- The cost of obtaining a bond, if the judge ordered you to get one
- Any payments you have made from your own funds to buy supplies and services for your ward for which you have saved the receipts
Asking for Changes in the Guardian’s Power
The time to ask for a change in the Order and Judgment is when you submit your Initial or Annual Report. Changes may be needed in the Order and Judgment over time for any number of reasons. For instance a person, who was hurt in an accident may recover and be able to do more things for him or herself. In that case the Guardian’s powers could become less over time. On the other hand, some wards become more frail over time and may be less able to manage some of their affairs - in that case, the Order may be changed to give the guardian additional powers that are needed.
If you have good reasons to ask the judge for a change in your powers and you have a lawyer you should ask him or her to write a request to the judge giving all the reasons why you think the change in the Order and Judgment is needed. But family guardians without a lawyer may write the judge themselves to ask for a change in their powers. Before you write the judge you may want to call the judge’s law clerk and explain what it is you would like to do – law clerks can be very helpful to you since they work closely with the judge and assist the judge with all legal questions and issues. If you don’t have good reasons for the changes you request, or if the judge disagrees with you because he or she feels that your plan is not in the best interest of your ward, the judge will not approve them.
Example: The Judge’s refusal to change the Order and Judgment
Three years ago Donald was appointed guardian for Personal Needs and Property Management for his mother, Millie, who lives in her own apartment in Brooklyn. Millie is doing very well, especially now that she has a home attendant three times per week. Two years ago Donald moved with his new wife to Long Island. He now wants to move Millie to an assisted living residence near his home. Having Millie nearby will make it much easier for Donald and his wife to supervise home care aids and to visit his mother frequently. Donald has asked for a change in the Order and Judgment, permitting him to move Millie to Long Island. But there is a big problem: since Millie is very happy in her apartment in which she has lived for many years and because she likes the home attendant, she does not want to move. Because the law requires that wards must be consulted about where they want to live, the judge decides that Millie should not be moved and denies Donald’s request to change the Order and Judgment.
Can Guardians Ask For Changes at Any Other Time?
Yes, most judges will permit guardians who have an emergency to write a letter explaining why the Order needs to be changed and asking for the judge’s approval before the reports are due. Before you write the judge you should call the judge’s law clerk and ask him or her for guidance.
Example: Changing the Order and Judgment in an Emergency
John is his mother June’s guardian for Personal Needs. His mother still lives in her own apartment but she has advanced cancer in addition to her dementia. June’s doctor has advised John that his mother must be placed in a nursing home to receive care from nurses and other specialists and have access to medicines to control her pain. The judge’s Order and Judgment does not give John the power to place his mother in a nursing home. However, John does not have to wait until the time he has to submit his Annual Report. John can write the judge a letter asking that the judge change the Order now so that June can be admitted to the nursing home immediately.
Who Should Receive My Initial or Annual Reports?
Once you have finished writing either one of the reports you must sign it in the presence of a Notary Public. The notarized copy must be filed with the office of the county clerk. You should either hand deliver the original report to the county clerk or mail it by certified mail, return receipt requested. You should also mail a photo copy of the report to:
- The court examiner who has been assigned to your ward’s case. The court examiner’s name is usually located in the Order and Judgment, but if it is not you can contact the county clerk’s office to find out who the court examiner is for your ward’s case.
- Your ward, unless the judge ordered you not to do so in the Order and Judgment.
- The court evaluator who reported to the court during the hearing (Initial Report only).
- Any attorney who represented your ward at the hearing (Initial Report only).
- The bond company, if you were required to get a bond (Annual Report only).
- If your ward lives in a home for people with disabilities, or another similar type of residence, you must send a copy of the report to the administrator of the residence.
- If your ward lives in a mental health facility, you must send a copy of the report to the Director of Mental Hygiene Legal Services.
In Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island this person is:
Sidney Hirschfeld, Director
Second Judicial Department, Mental Hygiene Legal Services
170 Old Country Road
Mineola, NY 11501
In Manhattan and the Bronx this person is:
Marvin Bernstein, Director
First Judicial Department, Mental Hygiene Legal Services
60 Madison Avenue, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10010
What happens to the Reports after I file them?
All reports are reviewed by the court examiner who must make sure that the reports present information on all the tasks that were listed in the original Order and Judgment and that the accounting of how you spent your ward’s funds is accurate and acceptable. You may be asked to change the report if the court examiner believes that changes are needed. The court examiner may also call you and ask you questions by phone or ask you to come to his or her office. After the court examiner has approved your report he or she will send a summary to the judge.
The Initial Report
The Initial Report is also called the “90-day Report” since it must be submitted 90 days after the day that you received your Commission.
All Guardians Must Include The Following Information In The Initial Report:
- What type of guardian you are—for personal needs, property management, or both
- Whether you have completed a guardianship training program (you must attach a copy of the certificate of attendance to your report)
- Your ward’s age and where your ward lives
- The name of the facility or residence where your ward lives, if your ward does not live at home
- How often you have visited your ward during these first 90 days—you must have visited at least once
- A list of important documents you have found that your ward signed in the past, such as power of attorney, a will, a health care proxy, or a living will
- What plans you have to take care of your ward in the immediate future
- Whether there have been changes in your ward’s situation since the hearing
Guardians for Personal Needs Must Provide the Following Information:
- The names and addresses of your ward’s personal doctor and psychiatrist or psychologist
- The doctors’ diagnosis
- A list of other professionals or service agencies that provide services to your ward (home care agencies, meals on wheels, social services). You should list each one with an address and phone number
- A list of day care programs your ward attends regularly with their names and phone numbers
- A list of medications your ward is currently taking
Guardians for Property Management Must Provide Detailed Financial Information on:
- Bank accounts your ward owned at the time of your appointment as guardian (include the name of the bank, the account number and the amount of money in each account)
- Whether you have opened a Guardianship Account
- A list of stocks, bonds, other securities that you have found, and whether you have changed the title of the accounts to your name as guardian
- A list of any other funds you have found, where they were located, what their value is, and what you have done with these funds
- A list of other personal property—such as a car, furniture, jewelry, and artwork—with a description, their location, and their value
- A list of real property your ward owns including the location, the type of property it is, and its value
- A list of the sources of your ward’s monthly income, including the source and the amount each month
- A list of other income, such as interest or dividends
- A list of any debts or unpaid bills, including who needs to be paid and how much
- Any public benefits you have applied for
- Whether you have applied for insurance on behalf of your ward
- Your ward’s insurance policies (medical, longterm care, homeowner’s, auto, valuable items, art work, life insurance)
- Whether your ward has a safe deposit box, including the name of the bank, the address, and whether or not you have been able to see its contents and determine their value
|NOTE: When you submit your report you should attach all receipts, invoices and bank statements so that the court examiner can easily review how you have spent your ward’s money.
The Annual Report
|NOTE: The Annual Report is always due in May and covers the previous calendar year (January 1 through December 31). Of course, for your very first Annual Report you are only expected to provide information covering the period starting with the date you received your Commission through December 31.
All Guardians Must Provide The Following Information In The Annual Report:
- The dates (at least four a year) you have visited your ward and where you saw your ward.
- Any big changes you have observed in your ward’s situation or condition since the last report.
- When your ward last saw a doctor. Include the reason for the visit and the doctor’s diagnosis and treatment plan (if there is one).
- A report on the condition of the ward from a professional (doctor, psychologist, nurse clinician, or social worker) who has examined or evaluated the ward in the three months prior (February, March, or April) to the submission of the Annual Report.
- Facts on which any change in your powers might be based, including ending of the guardianship.
Guardians for Personal Needs Must Also Include:
- A list of medical treatments your ward received since the last report.
- Your plan to take care of your ward’s medical, dental, and mental health needs for the next year.
- Information about the social condition of your ward, including what social and personal assistance he or she has received and what your ward’s social skills and social needs are.
Guardians for Property Management Must Include:
- A copy of the federal, state, and local tax returns you filed for your ward before April 15 of the same year.
- A detailed accounting of all income received and all expenses paid.
- Whether your ward was employed or whether he or she has earned wages that you have received on behalf of your ward (this applies usually to people with disabilities who are employed in supervised job situations).
- A request for reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses you have had while taking care of our ward’s affairs.
- A request for your compensation or fee, also called “commission”, if the judge had ordered it in your Order and Judgment (you are not obligated to get payment but you may accept it if the judge had ordered it).
|NOTE: When you write your Annual Report you should make sure that the amounts add up properly so that the court examiners will not find fault with your report. You should attach any vouchers, bank statements, and any other documents that you can provide to show proof of the information you have provided.