The NJ Elder Law Center at Goldberg Law Group represents individuals who wish to be appointed guardian over those who are unable to care for themselves due to mental or physical limitations. As in all of our practice areas, we pride ourselves on making an emotional and overwhelming crisis easier on the family and friends of the proposed ward. While uncontested guardianships appear to be simple administrative tasks on their face they are often fraught with pitfalls and time consuming and emotionally demanding procedures. We make the process as seamless as possible so that the proposed guardian can rest easy and the ward can receive the proper care he or she deserves.
What is a Guardianship?
A Guardianship is legal process used for individuals that are unable to care for themselves or manage their affairs because they no longer have the mental capacity to do so.
Why do you need a Guardianship?
A Guardianship is needed when there are no Financial and/or Health Care Power of Attorneys in place and a person lacks the capacity to sign any documents appointing someone to act on their behalf.
A Guardianship is needed so that someone can be appointed by the Court to make decisions for the individual that can no longer make their own decisions regarding their general health, welfare, safety and financial well-being.
Without a Power of Attorney or Guardianship Certificate, you do not have the authority to act on anyone’s behalf.
To file for Guardianship, one must obtain two separate evaluations of the alleged incapacitated person (“AIP”), completed by either two Medical Doctors or a Medical Doctor and a Psychologist. The evaluators will meet with the AIP and will complete a Certification and Report on their medical opinion as to whether they believe the individual has capacity.
The reports of both examining physician(s) and/or psychologist will then be filed with the Guardianship Action with the Court.
In addition to the Certification and Report of examining physicians, you must also file the following:
- Case Information Statement
- Order Fixing Guardianship Hearing Date and Appointing Attorney for AIP
- Verified Complaint
- Certification of Assets and Income
- Certification of Criminal and Civil Judgment History; and
- Any other supporting Certifications needed (ie. Certification in Support, Certification of Proposed Guardian, etc.)
Hearing Date/Appointment of Court Appointed Counsel
Once the Court reviews the pleadings, you will receive the signed and filed Order Fixing Guardianship Hearing Date and Appointing an Attorney for the AIP.
The Order will set down a date and time for the hearing before the presiding Judge. It will also appoint an attorney for the Alleged Incapacitated Person.
Court Appointed Counsel
The Court Appointed Attorney (“CAA”) is appointed to represent the AIP and is there to advocate for the best interests of the AIP.
The CAA must meet with the AIP and prepare a report as to his or her findings, and will often meet with or interview family and friends of the AIP. The CAA will want to ensure that the prospective Guardian is the appropriate person to act as such.
Before one can be appointed as Guardian, they must complete Guardian training.
Guardian training currently consists of reviewing Guardianship training video and manuals provided by the Court. Manuals cover the types of reports guardians must file yearly as well as the duties and responsibilities of the Guardian of the person and estate.
At the hearing, the Judge will review all documents submitted in the case and render a decision as to whether the proposed guardian is the appropriate person to act as such.