Establishing guardianship is a legal process, and we have guided many of our clients to understand the family’s options regarding legal guardians, what steps to take before applying for legal guardians, and the forms of legal guardians – general or plenary guardianship, or limited guardianship.
Frequently Asked New Jersey Guardianship Questions
What is a guardianship?
A legal guardian is an individual has been authorized to act on behalf of a minor or an incapacitated adult. A legal guardian has an obligation to ensure that he/she is acting in this individual’s best interest with regard to his/her health, safety and general welfare. A guardian’s duties involve making decisions on behalf of the individual and providing consent on his/her behalf.
What is a limited guardianship in NJ?
An individual with limited guardianship over a minor or incapacitated adult is authorized to make decisions on his/her behalf relative to residential, educational, medical, legal and financial issues. Typically, limited guardianship is appropriate in cases where the minor/incapacitated adult is capable of making some, but not all, decisions on his/her behalf. In contrast, general, or “plenary,” guardianship, is appropriate in cases where the minor or incapacitated adult is unable to make any decision on his/her own behalf.
How do I begin the process of being appointed a guardian?
In some cases, the individual may voluntarily appoint the guardian through a Power of Attorney. In the case of a minor or incapacitated adult who is unable to make this decision, the individual seeking to be appointed as guardian must make an application to the Superior Court. This application must be supported by current assessments from either a psychologist, psychiatrist, and/or licensed medical doctor in support of the guardianship application. Upon filing a application, the Court will appoint an attorney to represent the minor/incapacitated adult. If the Court determines that the request for a legal guardian is appropriate, a judgment will be entered appointing the guardian(s). Before the guardian may act on behalf of the minor/incapacitated adult, however, he or she must appear before the Surrogate, complete forms and pay all requisite fees. Once a guardian has been appointed by the Court, only the Court can modify the Order.