196 East Commerce Street
Bridgeton, NJ 08302
Guardianship provides family members with the opportunity to provide necessary care and support to adult children with disabilities and elderly loved ones who are no longer able to make financial and medical decisions for themselves. While establishing guardianship is an important – and often necessary – step for many families, before seeking to appoint a legal guardian for a loved one, it is critical to understand the process involved and the alternatives that may be available.
Since appointing a guardian inherently involves depriving the ward of certain of his or her legal rights, the process of establishing guardianship is subject to a number of stringent legal requirements. At Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, we have helped numerous families navigate the guardianship process, and we also have significant experience helping clients pursue alternatives to guardianship. When you schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys, we will help you understand each of the various considerations involved in appointing a guardian, and we will help you choose the best option for meeting your loved one’s needs.
New Jersey law recognizes two primary forms of guardianship: general guardianship and limited guardianship.
With general guardianship, the appointed guardian takes on full responsibility for making decisions on behalf of the ward. General guardianship can be appropriate where the proposed ward has been deemed fully incapacitated and is legally incapable of expressing opinions or making decisions on his or her own. In New Jersey, general guardianship is also known as “plenary guardianship.”
With limited guardianship, the appointed guardian is given the authority (and assumes the obligation) to make certain decisions with respect to the ward’s financial, medical and other needs. Depending upon the circumstances, a limited guardian may be appointed to make decisions regarding the ward’s education, vocational activities, housing and legal representation. Family members can seek limited guardianship when a loved one has diminished decision-making capacity but is not fully incapacitated, and establishing limited guardianship can often be a precursor to appointing a general guardian.
In many circumstances, less-restrictive alternatives to guardianship will be available. For example, one of the most well-known alternatives to guardianship is the “power of attorney.” A power of attorney grants decision-making authority to a trusted confidant (typically a close family member), but without many of the legal implications of general or limited guardianship. If your loved one has not yet been deemed incapacitated (once deemed incapacitated, an individual cannot legally execute a power of attorney), a power of attorney may be a better option. Our attorneys can help you decide.
There are a number of other potential alternatives as well, from establishing a joint checking account to making use of living trusts and other estate planning tools. Regardless of your loved one’s condition and needs, we can make sure you have the tools you need to give your loved one the life he or she deserves.
For more information about establishing guardianship in New Jersey and the alternatives that you may have available, please contact us for an initial consultation. To speak with one of our experienced family lawyers in confidence, call 1-877-435-6371 or request an appointment online today.
Don’t let your rights be jeopardized.