ALBANY — A law named for actor Peter Falk to protect the rights of children to see their mentally incapacitated parents after they remarry is moving quickly toward approval in New York in the last days of the state legislative session.
The bill aims provide visitation rights for adult children as an incapacitated parent faces death is named for the “Columbo” and “Princess Bride” actor, who faced such a conflict late in his life. Sponsors of the bill and media reports say Falk’s daughter from a previous marriage claimed she wasn’t notified by Falk’s legal guardian of major changes in her father’s health or of his funeral and burial arrangements.
The bill would change the people who are entitled to notice of an incapacitated person’s death, funeral and burial arrangements. Earlier this year, Falk’s daughter, Catherine Falk, began lobbying the Colorado legislature to create what would was proposed as the Falk Act. The proposal is also being lobbied in a dozen other states.
The sponsors note the New York bill is prompted by several other “very contentious” cases in which adult children from a previous marriage have been denied visits to an incapacitated parent by the parent’s current spouse.
The bill would alter the law governing the “order of appointment” of a guardian over an incapacitated person. The bill would require the order to “to identify anyone entitled to notice of the person’s transfer to a medical facility.” The bill would also allow the order to identify all people who could visit the incapacitated person.
In New York, the bill has a powerful sponsor in Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse). The bill, co-sponsored by Assemb. William Magnarelli (D-Syracuse), passed the Assembly Wednesday and is scheduled for a final reading and vote in the Senate before the end of session on Thursday.