David Bookstaver, Director
Mai Yee, Assistant Director
Date: December 2, 2002
|Courts Adopt New Fiduciary Appoinment Rules|
|NEW YORK - The New York State court system has adopted
stringent new rules governing judicial appointments of guardians, guardians
ad litem, receivers, referees and other fiduciaries that assist the courts
in resolving cases. The new rules - approved by the Court of Appeals
after consultation with the Administrative Board of the Courts - are based
on the recommendations of the Commission on Fiduciary Appointments, which
issued a report to Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye in December 2001 after conducting
an exhaustive assessment of the current system. Chief Judge Kaye
created the Commission, along with the Office of the Special Inspector
General for Fiduciary Appointments, following the release of a controversial
letter which highlighted concerns that courts were selecting fiduciary
appointees based on factors other than merit.
The new rules establish a comprehensive framework to ensure that selection
of fiduciary appointees is merit-based and free of favoritism. The
following are the major features of the new rules and procedures that will
be put in place:
Chief Judge Kaye stated, "Court-appointed fiduciaries are entrusted with control of the personal and financial interests of some of the most vulnerable members of society: widows, orphans, incapacitated persons and the elderly. It is imperative that these assignments be made solely on the basis of merit and that the appointees be scrupulous, conscientious individuals with sufficient training and experience to perform this vitally important work. The new rules governing fiduciary appointments achieve this by establishing strict guidelines for assignments and a more accountable regulatory structure. I am grateful to Chair Sheila Birnbaum and the other members of the Statewide Commission on Fiduciary Appointments, whose instructive report and thoughtful recommendations laid the foundation for these prudent new measures."
Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman added, "The new rules governing fiduciary appointments are the latest step in the court system's comprehensive program to reform the fiduciary assignment process in New York. We created the Office of the Special Inspector General for Fiduciary Appointments to investigate individual allegations of misconduct, and we undertook a series of internal measures to improve the monitoring of fiduciary practices across the state. In addition, the Chief Judge appointed the Commission on Fiduciary Appointments, whose outstanding work led to the adoption of these latest measures. The new rules establish rigorous appointment standards and ensure accountability in these assignments."
Most of the new rules and procedures take effect January 1, 2003; the remainder, including the establishment of new, specialized eligibility lists, take effect June 1, 2003.
Judges Kaye and Lippman also announced today, in conjunction with Presiding
Justice Milton L. Williams of the Appellate Division, First Department,
and Presiding Justice A. Gail Prudenti of the Appellate Division, Second
Department, a pilot program in which the court system's internal auditors
will serve as court examiners in selected guardianship proceedings in the
First and Second Departments. Court examiners review the reports and accountings
that guardians, who are appointed to manage the affairs of incapacitated
persons, must file with the court.