Understanding guardianship of the person and estate

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Understanding Guardianship Of The Person And Estate

If your loved one is not able to make decisions for themselves because of age, disability or mental illness, it may be necessary to pursue guardianship. There is a process families can go through in New Jersey to request this arrangement, which protects the rights and well-being of their loved one, called the ward.

Types of guardianship

There are two primary types of guardianship. A guardianship of the person allows the guardian to make personal and medical decisions for the ward, like their living arrangements and details of their daily care.

A guardianship of the estate allows the guardian to manage the ward’s financial assets, like paying bills, managing investments and making financial decisions.

Process and reporting requirements

First, the person who wants to request guardianship must file a petition with the court. The petition must include information about the proposed ward’s capacity, the reasons for guardianship and must name a proposed guardian.

The judge will usually appoint a court representative to review the circumstances and determine whether guardianship is appropriate. The representative will prepare an evaluation report for the judge.

The court will hold a hearing where all parties, including the proposed ward, are allowed to attend and present evidence. The court will appoint a guardian if it finds that guardianship is in the ward’s best interest. The court order will outline the guardian’s specific responsibilities.

The guardian must report to the court regularly about the ward’s well-being and if they oversee the ward’s finances, must provide a report about their financial affairs. If circumstances change over time, the judge can modify the guardianship.


Michael Ritigstein is a Founding Partner of the firm concentrating his efforts in supporting the firm's litigation, corporate and estate matters. Mr. Ritigstein graduated from the University of Delaware in 1996 and Seton Hall University School of Law in 2000. In 2007 he received a Masters of Law in Taxation with a concentration in Estate Planning, from Temple University's Beasley School of Law.

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