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McCurrie McCurrie
& McCurrie, L.L.C.

680 Kearny Avenue
Kearny, NJ 07032-3010
Phone: (201) 467-4180
Fax: (201) 997-9567
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Legal Guardians, what are they?

Suppose you have young relative whose parents are both killed in a tragic accident. Being too young to care for himself, this relative needs someone to take him in, essentially raising him in his parents' place. In a case such as this, you might find yourself in a position to act as this child's legal guardian.

A legal guardian is someone, usually appointed by the court, to take responsibility for an individual who cannot take responsibility for him or herself. In most cases, this is a young child, but the individual involved could be any age. Some elderly individuals may also require a legal guardian to make important decisions for them.

A legal guardian is not just in charge of caring for someone else in a general sense. Guardianship means making decisions that are in the best interest of the other and managing any assets that individual possesses honestly and with the ward in mind.

This might mean putting deciding where a young ward will attend school. For elderly wards, a legal guardian may be charged with making medical decisions on behalf of the individual according to his or her previously-stated wishes.

While usually appointed by the court, legal guardians may also be designated in the will of a single parent, by someone preparing to undergo a risky surgery, or by an aging individual. Guardianships end when they are dissolved by the court or, in the case of some children, when they legally become an adult.

The ward may also file for "emancipation" from his or her legal guardian, if that person appears to be unfit or abusive. If a child is too young to file, or an individual is too incapacitated to stand up for him or herself, then a third-party can file for that person's emancipation.

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