Are you worried about a friend or loved one in New Jersey who cannot safely care for themselves, manage their finances, or both? If so, you can obtain the authority to care for them and make decisions on their behalf. In New Jersey, this involves applying for guardianship.

The process can be complex. First, you must determine what type of guardianship you seek. Then, you must submit various forms and documents showing why the court should grant it.

You don’t have to navigate this process alone. At Bozanian McGregor, LLC, a New Jersey guardianship lawyer can help you navigate the process of being appointed as a guardian. Contact us today for more information.

What is Guardianship?

Certain persons may be unable to make decisions for themselves or tend to their basic needs. Reasons they may qualify as an “incapacitated person” in New Jersey include:

  • Mental or physical illness
  • Intellectual or physical disability
  • Chronic alcoholism and drug use

An incapacitated person may require a guardian to care for them and make important decisions on their behalf. Guardianship involves a court officially granting someone this authority.

Three Types of Guardianship in New Jersey

Guardianship can take one of these forms in New Jersey:

  • Guardianship of the person and their estate — Someone with guardianship of a person and their estate sees to the individual’s well-being while also managing their finances.
  • Guardianship of the person — An arrangement involving guardianship of a person without guardianship of their estate consists of a guardian tending to an incapacitated person’s well-being without managing their finances.
  • Guardianship of the estate — In some instances, an incapacitated person may be able to care for themselves but may require a guardian to handle their financial affairs.

Limited Guardianship vs. General Guardianship in New Jersey

Guardianship in New Jersey may be defined as:

  • General — In general guardianship, a guardian can exercise all the authority and powers associated with guardianship.
  • Limited A court may decide that guardianship should be limited. In this scenario, the court will specify what types of powers and authorities a guardian may exercise.

Becoming a Guardian in New Jersey

You may apply for guardianship through the relevant county Surrogate’s Office. A guardianship case is typically heard by the Superior Court.

When applying for guardianship, you must prove the person over whom you’re seeking guardianship is incapacitated. You will typically need to provide the following evidence and documentation to do so:

  • Certification from Physicians or Psychologists — Two doctors or psychologists must certify that a person’s condition renders them incapacitated. The doctors or psychologists providing these certifications must examine the person in question within 30 days of you filing for guardianship over them.
  • Adult Guardianship Case Information Statement (CIS) — You will use this form to provide general information about a case.
  • Verified Complaint Form This form requests that a court grant guardianship based on a person’s inability to care for themselves or make decisions for themselves.
  • Certification of Assets Use this form to list the assets and property of someone over whom you’re seeking guardianship. Your application must include this form even if you’re not seeking guardianship of someone’s estate.
  • Certification of Criminal and Civil Judgment History — Use this form to provide information about your criminal or civil judgment history. Having such a history doesn’t automatically prevent you from becoming a guardian. However, it can help a court better determine if you’d be a suitable guardian for an incapacitated person.
  • Order Fixing Guardianship Hearing Date Only complete the top section of this form. The top section is where you identify yourself as a plaintiff in a guardianship case. The court will complete the sections regarding the case’s docket number and court date. The court will also assign legal counsel to the alleged incapacitated person in question. They will provide information about said legal counsel via this form. Upon completing the form, the judge will send a copy back to you.
  • Judgment of Incapacity and Appointment of Guardian of the Person and Estate or Judgment of Incapacity and Appointment of Guardian of the Person — You won’t provide both of these forms when applying for guardianship. You will only provide the form that applies based on the type of guardianship you’re seeking. Similar to the above, you will only complete the top section of the form. A judge will complete the remainder of the form and return it to you accordingly.

The filing fee is usually $200. You must include two copies of all forms with your application and set aside additional copies for your records.

What Happens After You File for Guardianship in New Jersey?

The person over whom you’re seeking guardianship will need legal counsel. The court will usually appoint a lawyer to their case. Before the court date, their lawyer will interview them and any other relevant parties.

What happens next depends on whether the individual in question agrees that guardianship is necessary. Often, their lawyer will submit a report outlining their findings. However, if the person over whom you’re seeking guardianship believes guardianship isn’t necessary, their lawyer may file an answer to your initial application instead of filing a report.

You’ll have the chance to present your case at a hearing. If the judge agrees that guardianship is necessary and that you would be a suitable guardian, they will complete the paperwork, making the guardianship official. 

Contact a New Jersey Guardianship Lawyer

An attorney can simplify the process of applying for guardianship by handling everything from submitting paperwork to representing you during a hearing. They can also help you understand your rights and responsibilities as a guardian.
At Bozanian McGregor, LLC, we understand you’re applying for guardianship because you want the best for someone who is unable to care for themselves. Contact us online today to learn more about how we may be able to help.