An Overview of Guardianship In New York

(133 Ratings)

Produced on: April 04, 2017

Course Format On Demand Audio

Taught by


Course Description

Time 78 minutes
Difficulty Beginner

In the field of elder law, we strive as practitioners to encourage our clients to execute advance-planning documents necessary to appoint trusted persons to act as fiduciaries in the event that our clients become incapacitated. But there is nonetheless a growing population of persons who, through a catastrophic event or through an age-related cognitive decline, have become too incapacitated to make decisions for themselves and have not appointed anyone to act on their behalf, or have appointed someone who is abusing their role.

This program, led by attorneys Fern Finkel and Julie Stoil Fernandez, is designed to teach practitioners interested in elder law and special needs law the essential tools to determine whether to commence a guardianship proceeding. They will also address the nuances and complexities of guardianship litigation, especially contested cases, and effective tools for addressing emergencies which arise during the litigation, such as placement, financing care and enjoining suspected predators from further abuses. 

Learning Objectives: 
  1. Identify situations warranting a guardianship proceeding
  2. Understand the types of relief available to an alleged incapacitated person during and at the conclusion of litigation
  3. Recognize the steps of guardianship litigation from inception to post-judgment


Julie Stoil Fernandez

Finkel & Fernandez, LLP

Julie Stoil Fernandez is a partner at the law firm of Finkel & Fernandez, LLP, located in downtown Brooklyn. She has specialized in elder law, guardianship and mental health advocacy since 2000.

An experienced litigator, Ms. Stoil Fernandez represents clients in both contested and non- contested guardianship proceedings and mental health hearings throughout New York City, Westchester and Nassau Counties.

Ms. Stoil Fernandez’ practice also includes estate planning, asset protection planning, probate and administration of estates and mediation for families in crisis over elder law matters.

Prior to starting a solo practice in 2000, Ms. Stoil Fernandez was a staff attorney at Mental Hygiene Legal Service, Appellate Division, First Judicial Department, where she litigated hundreds of cases on behalf of patients in both public and private psychiatric facilities in matters involving involuntary care and treatment and class actions concerning the quality of care in state hospitals. Her work included representing persons adjudicated not guilty by reason of mental disease and persons deemed incapacitated to stand trial for criminal proceedings. Before law school, Ms. Stoil Fernandez was a counselor in various homeless shelters in Boston, Massachusetts, culminating in her position as Director of a 500-bed emergency crisis shelter for homeless men.

Ms. Stoil Fernandez received her Bachelor of Arts from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. She received her Juris Doctor Degree from Northeastern University Law School and was admitted to the Bar of the State of New York in November, 1993. Ms. Stoil Fernandez is certified in family, divorce and elder law mediation. 

Since 2000, Ms. Stoil Fernandez has been a member of the New York State Office of Court Administration’s panel of qualified experts to serve by court appointment as Court Evaluator, Counsel and/or Guardian of person and property. She is also a member of the 18B Panel of appointees for indigent defendants and is Of Counsel to Ronald Fatoullah & Associates, LLC, NYC Health & Hospitals Corporation and Jamaica Hospital Medical Center.

Ms. Stoil Fernandez is a Vice Chair to the New York State Bar Association’s Elder Law Section Subcommittee on Elder Abuse and is a member of the Subcommittee on Mediation. She is also a member of the National Association of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), the New York City Bar Association and the Brooklyn Bar Association. She lectures on topics ranging from advance directives to Medicaid eligibility. She presently serves as a mentor attorney for the New York State Bar Association’s Elder Law Mentorship Program and for the New York Law School Elder Law Clinic.

Fern Finkel

Finkel & Fernandez LLP

Fern J. Finkel, Esq. is an elder law attorney with her office in downtown Brooklyn. She has specialized in elder law and guardianship since 1998 and has been in private practice since 1990.  Prior to establishing her private practice, Fern was a litigator specializing in medical malpractice and personal injury at the law firm of Damashek, Godosky and Gentile.  In October, 2015, Ms. Finkel entered into a partnership with Julie Stoil Fernandez, forming Finkel & Fernandez LLP.

Fern graduated with honors with her Bachelor of Science in Economics from New York University College of Business and Public Administration in 1981. She received her Juris Doctor Degree from Boston University School of Law in 1984.

As part of her private practice, Fern spends a significant amount of time working pro bono on behalf of the indigent elderly of Brooklyn. She has spearheaded the Legal Education and Assistance Project, known as LEAP, at the Brooklyn Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project, which she is a Board Member of. The LEAP project is dedicated to training attorneys to perform outreach at community and senior centers throughout Brooklyn, with a focus on assisting seniors to have their health care proxies and advance directives in place, avoiding the painful process of Guardianship which might otherwise result. 

Fern is the Chair of the Foundation Law Committee of the Brooklyn Bar Association, the Vice Chair of the Elder Law Committee of the Brooklyn Bar Association, a delegate to the New York State Bar Association Elder Law Section where she serves as Co-Chair of the Guardianship Committee, and a board member of Legal Services New York City where she also serves on the executive board.  Fern served for years as a volunteer certified mediator with Safe Horizons for community disputes, PINS cases and custody matters, as well as with the United States District Court, Eastern District. Fern lectures for various bar associations on topics including the Role of the Guardian, Role of the Court Evaluator, Role of the Attorney for the Alleged Incapacitated Person, Advance Directives and Guardianship. Since 2004 she has served as a mentor attorney at the Elder Law Clinic at New York Law School. Fern is a co-founder of the Touro Center Aging and Longevity Institute Guardianship Quality Initiative, a co-facilitator of the Working Model of Guardianship- WINGS [Working Interdisciplinary Network of Guardianship Stakeholders] and serves on the Committees on Character and Fitness for the Second Judicial Department.

Fern has won numerous awards for her pro bono service, including the Brooklyn Bar Association Frieda S. Nisnewitz Award for Pro Bono Service (1996), an Award of Merit from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (1997), the New York State Bar Association Pro Bono Award for the Second Judicial District (2003), the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York Hanna S. Cohn Pro Bono Award (2004), the Brooklyn Bar Association Distinguished Service Award (2009) and (2013) and the Brooklyn Volunteer Lawyers Project Building Bridges Leadership Award (2013).  Fern has been listed as a New York Super Lawyer in the field of elder law in 2014, 2015 and 2016.


Sheldon F.

Very Informative on the topic

Gregory P.

Thank you.

Marc R.

Great introductory program

Matthew K.

Superb. Enlightening, practical, and clear, on an important topic. Thank you.

Janet P. F.

Very caring attorneys.

carolyn w.

Two great presenters who demonstrated solid knowledge and articulated a summary of key considerations. Thank you!

Laury F.

Good introduction to the subject. Very clear presentation.

Ariel D.

Superlative presentation.

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$ 89 Wills, Trusts, & Estates In Stock


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