On January 21, 2016, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation which is often referred to as Peter Falk’s Law. The law requires guidelines for end of life notices and visitation rights regarding incapacitated individuals who are the subject of a legal guardianship proceeding.
The law mandates that a Court-ordered appointment (a guardian) must oversee the care of an incapacitated person and identify all individuals who are entitled to notice of a person’s death, funeral and burial arrangements. The law came about as a result of the end-of-life treatment for the actor Peter Falk. It had been alleged by Mr. Falk’s daughter that the actor’s second wife, who had obtained conservatorship of him, had blocked all contact with family members toward the end of his life.
The law also sought to deal with circumstances where under the then-current law, legally appointed guardians failed to notify family members or close friends of an individual when they became sick or were admitted to the hospital or passed away. The new law requires the identification and notification of other family and friends and will help insure legal guardians no longer are able to improperly isolate an incapacitated person at the end of their lives.