Albany, NY - July 21, 2016 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed "Peter Falk's Law," legislation that requires guidelines for end of life notices and visitation rights regarding incapacitated individuals subject of legal guardianship proceedings.
The bill (A.3461-C/S.5154-C), requires the court order appointing a guardian to oversee the care of an incapacitated person to identify all individuals who are entitled to notice of a person's death, funeral and burial arrangements.
"Losing a loved one is always hard, but not being given the chance to say goodbye is perhaps even harder," Governor Cuomo said. "This measure will help ensure an individual's friends and family will have an opportunity to express their love and pay their respects at this critical and trying time."
In some circumstances under the current law, legally-appointed guardians have failed to notify family members or close friends of the individual when they become sick, are admitted to the hospital, or pass away. By requiring the identification and notification of other family and friends, this law will help ensure legal guardians will no longer be able to improperly isolate an incapacitated person at the end of their lives.
Senator John A. DeFrancisco said, "I am very pleased that Governor Cuomo has signed my bill to become Peter Falk's law. For every wrong, there should be a remedy. This law will help to protect the sick and dying from isolation from their family, while ensuring that next of kin are informed of the person's condition and ultimately notified of the person’s death, funeral and burial arrangements."
Assemblyman William B. Magnarelli said, "I want to thank the Governor for signing this important bill into law. The bill is named in honor of the legendary actor, Peter Falk. Peter Falk was a native of New York and a graduate of Syracuse University. This law will protect the rights of adult children and relatives when a person is placed under the care of a guardian. It will protect their right to be notified of the person’s passing and if they have been admitted to the hospital. It also allows the appointing court to identify those entitled to visitation in the guardianship order. The issue was brought to my attention by Catherine Falk, Peter’s daughter. When her father became ill, she was prevented from visiting him and was not notified of major changes in his condition. This inspired her to become an advocate for other families facing the improper isolation of a relative by a guardian. I want to thank Catherine for her tireless advocacy in getting this important bill passed."
"Peter Falk's Law" was sparked by the end-of-life treatment of the late actor and "Columbo" star Peter Falk. Mr. Falk's daughter had alleged the actor's second wife obtained conservatorship of him and blocked all contact with other family members at the end of his life.