Guardianship can sometimes be a necessary step in caring for those who are disabled, the elderly or minor children. Each state has its own rules to establishing and maintaining legal guardianship. In this post, we examine some of the most frequently asked questions about what it means and how to become a legal guardian in New Jersey.
What is a legal guardian?
A legal guardian is a person or agency that is legally authorized by the State to act on behalf of a minor or incapacitated adult to ensure that the health, safety and welfare needs of that individual are met. A legal guardian, while involving the individual as much as possible, also makes decisions and gives informed consent on behalf of the individual.
Who needs a guardian?
The New Jersey Bureau of Guardianship Services is required to evaluate all individuals if he or she is in need of a guardian at the point of the individual's entry into the service system or when he or she is receiving services as a minor. This assessment is based on a clinical assessment on whether the individual has the capacity to make choices and decisions independently. The assessment also considers whether it is necessary for an individual to have a guardian.
What are the different types of guardianship?
There are two types of guardianship. Limited guardianship is appropriate for those who can make some, but not all, decisions, whereas general guardianship is appropriate for those who are incapable of making decisions.
Beyond, that, there are certain types of guardianship that extend to the person, but not the person's property. This type of guardianship involves no financial obligations. Other guardianship extends over the person and property.
How does one become a guardian?
Individuals apply for guardianship and must demonstrate that the individual whom they are seeking guardianship over understands that he or she is appointing someone and granting them authority to make decisions on his or her behalf. While it is not required to apply for guardianship with the assistance of an attorney, it is strongly recommended; the guardianship process is a legal process that requires a petition to the court.
Can the State of New Jersey serve as a guardian?
In certain circumstances, the Bureau may act as a guardian to minors without parents or legal guardians and has granted a power of attorney to the Bureau.
Is guardianship permanent?
No, guardianship is not permanent. The Bureau reviews an individual's continuing need for guardianship. If the Bureau determines that guardianship is no longer necessary, the Bureau initiates the process for terminating or limiting guardianship.
Angela Yu is a New Jersey and New York attorney with a multifaceted practice area focusing in corporate, real estate and general contract law. She uses her interest in real life application of the law to author articles and other scholarship on a broad range of cutting-edge legal and business topics. Ms. Yu is a published legal author and holds a J.D. and M.B.A. from Rutgers School of Law and Rutgers Business School. Neither Angela nor Mike Farhi provides legal advice on this website. This blog post and any blog posts do not constitute legal advice.