In situations where a person is incapacitated and cannot make decisions for themselves, a New Jersey court can appoint a legal guardian to act on that person’s behalf.
The court may determine a person is incapacitated if he or she has a mental or physical illness, developmental disability, suffers from chronic drug or alcohol abuse or other concerns that render him or her incapable of acting independently.
To establish a guardianship in New Jersey, a complaint must be filed with the court that contains specific information about the person’s incapacity. The court will appoint an attorney for the person and schedule a hearing.
If the court finds that the person is incapacitated, it can appoint a guardian of the person or a guardian of the estate. In some situations, it may appoint a guardian for both.
A guardian of the person can generally make medical, education and other welfare decisions for the person. A guardian of the estate can generally make financial decisions for the person.
The court may also determine that it is appropriate for the person to retain some decision-making authority.
Guardians are required to file periodic reports with the court about the person’s well-being. In addition, any decisions made by the guardian must be done so with the best interest of the person in mind and in accordance with the court’s order.
For those unfamiliar with the process, establishing a guardianship and understanding the obligations that come with it may be difficult to understand. An experienced attorney can provide guidance to potential guardians about this process and answer their questions.