Guardianship is a legal process of managing the affairs of an incapacitated or developmentally disabled individual that may include making decisions about their health and well-being, as well as overseeing their finances. At Goldstein Law Group, our experienced guardianship lawyers can help file a Guardianship application or resolve contested Guardianship issues. The process of filing an application for Guardianship, and managing the affairs of a loved one, can be complicated and time-consuming. The guidance of an experienced Guardianship attorney is often critical in these sensitive matters.
How do you become a Guardian in the State of New Jersey?
The first step in the Guardianship process is to determine if a Guardian is necessary. If the ward (known as the “alleged incapacitated person” in these proceedings) has a Power of Attorney and healthcare Power of Attorney, then their agents may carry on their affairs without court supervision. However, if there is no agent appointed, then a Guardianship application must be filed with the Superior Court of New Jersey, Probate Part.
Before filing the application, the Applicant must first obtain proof that the ward is in fact incapacitated. There are a number of ways this may be proven, but the most common method is obtaining Affidavits of two treating or evaluating physicians. One of the Certifications may be from a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist. The Affidavits must state, among other things: 1) basic physical attributes of the ward; 2) education, experience, and specialty of the physician; 3) opinion that the ward is unable to manage their own affairs; 4) whether the ward can attend court in this proceeding; and 5) that the physician does not have a conflict of interest.
The application must also include a list of the ward’s assets. This is so that the Court knows the Ward’s financial circumstances, and also can set a bond in appropriate cases.
Once the completed application is filed with the Court, the Court will appoint an independent attorney for the ward, known as a guardian ad-litem. This is only a temporary position, it is NOT the permanent guardian which you are seeking to become. . The court-appointed attorney (guardian ad-litem) will make their own investigation into the ward’s personal life, health and well-being, and relationship with the applicant. The investigation will include personal interviews with the ward and the applicant, and any other measures the attorney feels are appropriate. The court-appointed attorney will then submit a report to the court, providing an opinion as to: 1) if a Guardianship is necessary; 2) if the ward can participate and assist in the proceedings; and 3) if the applicant is an appropriate candidate.
The Judge may also decide to hear from the ward in appropriate cases. If the ward objects, then the judge will take that into consideration. However, if the doctors and attorney indicate that the ward cannot or should not appear, then the Court may make a decision without their direct participation. The court-appointed attorney will speak for them instead.
If the judge agrees with the application, the Court will enter a Judgment of Incapacity and appoint the applicant (or another fit person) as Guardian. After the Judgment is entered, the applicant will fill out the remaining paperwork with the County Surrogate and, if ordered by the court, obtain a bond.
What are a Guardian’s responsibilities?
There are two types of Guardians. A Guardian of the Person makes decisions concerning the ward’s health and well-being, including courses of treatment and nursing home placement, etc. A Guardian of the Property manages the ward’s financial affairs, including receiving disability payments, applying for Medicaid, paying their bills, selling their house, if necessary, etc. One person can serve as both the Guardian of the Property and the of the Person, and the application is often made simultaneously.
The Guardian must also file annual reports with the Court on the ward’s well-being, and provide an annual accounting of their finances. However, the court may waive the yearly filing requirements in appropriate cases. Our experienced Guardianship attorneys can assist with these yearly filing requirements.
Consult a Guardianship Lawyer in Monmouth County, Middlesex County and Ocean County, to Protect Your Loved Ones
It can be dangerous to allow a mentally incapacitated or developmentally disabled person’s affairs go unmanaged. For many people, it is important to see that the incapacitated person is taken care of and their finances managed prudently. At Goldstein Law Group, our experienced guardianship attorneys are ready to assist you with the complexities of these matters. Our offices are conveniently located in Brielle, in Monmouth County, on the border of Ocean County, and in Old Bridge Township, in Middlesex County. Many of our clients come from communities such as Rumson, Red Bank, and Manalapan, Marlboro, Little Silver, Spring Lake, Wall Township, Brick, Farmingdale, Edison, Metuchen, Highland Park, Howell Township, Point Pleasant, as well as municipalities in Bergen County, Hudson County, and Essex County. Please contact us at 732-967-6777 or via our online form for a free phone or video consultation. We also can assist people who need a family law attorney or representation in a criminal defense, real estate, civil litigation, or business law matter.