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Guardianship represents a significant legal responsibility. It involves assuming the legal authority to make decisions for a child or an incapacitated adult. Typically, this role becomes necessary when the individual cannot make sound decisions due to age, illness, or disability. In New Jersey, the process is governed by specific laws and court procedures to ensure the Guardian acts in the best interest of the ward. Please continue reading and reach out to a seasoned Bergen County estate planning lawyer from McNerney & McAuliffe to learn more about how you can become a Guardian for your child or ailing parent in New Jersey. Here are some of the questions you may have:

How Do I Start the Guardianship Process?

The first step is understanding the eligibility criteria. New Jersey law requires potential guardians to be adults of sound mind, demonstrating the ability to handle the responsibilities involved. Next, you must file a petition with the Family Division of the New Jersey Superior Court. This petition should detail the reasons Guardianship is necessary and your relationship to the person in need. Supporting documents, such as medical reports or testimonies, can strengthen your case.

What Happens After Filing the Petition?

Once your petition is filed, the court will review it carefully. A hearing date is set, and the court may appoint an attorney to represent the interests of the proposed ward. During the hearing, you must prove that Guardianship is in the best interest of the individual. Evidence of the individual’s incapacity and your ability to provide care is critical. If the court approves your petition, you will receive legal authority to make decisions on behalf of the ward.

Are There Different Types of Guardianship?

Yes, there are several types. In New Jersey, the most common are Guardianship of a minor and Guardianship of an incapacitated adult. Guardianship of a minor is usually sought when parents are unable to care for their child due to various reasons. On the other hand, Guardianship of an incapacitated adult is for those who cannot make decisions due to mental or physical disabilities. The court may grant full or limited Guardianship, depending on the ward’s needs.

What Are My Responsibilities as a Guardian?

As a guardian, your primary duty is to act in the ward’s best interest. This responsibility encompasses making decisions about their health care, living arrangements, and financial matters. You are also required to provide the court with regular updates on the ward’s well-being and how you are managing their affairs. Importantly, Guardianship does not mean taking away all of the ward’s rights; it’s about providing support where it’s most needed.

Can Guardianship Be Challenged or Revoked?

Indeed, Guardianship can be challenged or revoked under certain circumstances. If a ward regains the capacity to make their own decisions, they can petition the court to end the Guardianship. Family members or concerned parties can also challenge your Guardianship if they believe you are not acting in the ward’s best interest. In such cases, the court will review the situation and make a decision based on the evidence presented.

In addition to regular judicial appointments to represent alleged incapacitated persons in Guardianship applications, Mark P. McAuliffe initiates Guardianship applications for children and adults on behalf of loved ones and family members in the Superior Court of New Jersey. He is also retained to contest actions for Guardianship by family members in New Jersey.

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