Union County Guardianship Lawyer

A Guardianship is established by the Court on behalf of a minor or mentally incapacitated individual. Typically, Guardianships are established for adults when that person has lost the mental capacity to make their own decisions because of dementia, a stroke or some other mental illness and no one can lawfully act for him or her because there is not a Living Will or Power of Attorney. A Guardianship for a minor can also be created whether it is provided for in a Will by the deceased parent(s) or by a Court proceeding if no Will exists.

A Guardian of the person makes personal and medical decisions on behalf of the incapacitated individual. The Guardian of the Property will make financial decisions over the person's property. Typically a Guardian will have the power to make both financial and medical decisions.

New Jersey recognizes 3 types of Guardianships:

1. General Guardian - the court finds that the incapacitated person cannot govern himself or manages his affairs. A general guardian will exercise all rights and powers over this person

2. Limited Guardian - the Court finds that the individual is unable to make some, but not all decisions over themselves. Thus, the Court will specify what decisions the Guardian shall make for the incapacitated person.

3. Temporary Guardian - The Court appoints a Guardian for an individual on a temporary basis. Normally, this is limited to 45 days.

There is a ranking as to who can serve as Guardian for an individual. N.J.S.A. 3B:12-25 & R:4:86-6(c) specifies that a spouse, registered domestic partner or civil union partner of the incapacitated person has first priority, followed by heirs, friends, and the Office of the Public Guardian. If no one accepts this position, a Guardian can be appointed.

Typically, in order to become a Guardian, you will need to file a Verified Complaint, Affidavits by two qualified physicians or one physician and one licensed practicing psychologist who have examined the incapacitated person within 30 days of the filing of the Complaint. An Order to Show Cause must accompany the Complaint as well as an Affidavit setting forth the nature, location and fair market value of all property owned by the incapacitated person. My office can help prepare these very complex and detailed documents for you to make sure the proposed Guardianship goes as quickly and smoothly as possible.

A hearing will be held later on and the Court will determine whether the individual is incapacitated and whether the proposed Guardian is the appropriate person to serve.