Lessons on Emergency Guardians from Gavin v. Loeffelbein

At the end of March 2019, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court heard the case of Gavin v. Loeffelbein, which concerns the appointment of emergency guardians. In the case, the Superior Court held that an emergency guardianship order automatically expired after a period of thirty days.


In addressing this case, the Superior Court found that a person who is subject to an emergency guardianship is not prohibited from making decisions about his property even if a court ordered guardian has been ordered to decide these matters. As a result, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court vacated a decision by the state’s Superior Court, which had erred when it considered the validity of an emergency order.


While this case arose outside of New York, it still serves as a good reminder about the importance role played by emergency guardians, which will be examined in this article.


The Role of an Emergency Guardian


Emergency guardians are a type of guardian that is created in the event an emergency occurs. In many situations, an emergency guardian is appointed to take care of someone who has become debilitated or incapacitated s a result of injury. Emergency guardians are temporary, however, while other types of guardianships are more permanent.


The Creation of Emergency Guardianships


Emergency guardianships are created with the approval of a court. Many times, a judge will issue an order appointing an emergency guardian for an individual. In addition to appointing the guardian, a court might also list the guardian’s duties in taking care of the incapacitated individual.


A person is often able to create legal documents including advance directives and living wills in which another individual  is appointed to case of emergency situations.


The Requirements of a Valid Emergency Guardianship


Laws in New York state that certain requirements must be met before a person can act as a guardian.


One of these requirements is that the person who is represented must be incapacitated by either disease, mental disability, or any other factor.


As a result, a person is not able to merely declare themselves an emergency guardian for a loved one. Instead, the person must be named as an emergency guardian in a court document or a court must appoint the individual.


The Role of an Emergency Guardian


The role of an emergency guardian includes responsibilities related to either a person ro the person’s property. An emergency guardian is also sometimes appointed for both of these roles. Duties related to a person include issues associated with the person being represented’s health or medical well being.


Tasks related to a person’s property can include making rent payments for a person. Emergency guardianships are temporary in nature because it is assumed that the person being represented will at some time regain their ability to make legal decisions and the guardianship will end. At this time, the guardian will no longer able to act on behalf of the other  individual.


Speak with an Experienced Accident Attorney

If you are interested in creating an emergency guardianship, it can be very helpful to speak with a knowledgeable attorney. Contact Ettinger Estate Planning today to schedule a free initial consultation.

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