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Overview of guardianships in New Jersey

Many people in New Jersey have parents and other relatives who are older, sick or otherwise suffering under a disability. Such conditions can make it hard for such people to make financial and other decisions for themselves.

If such a person did not create a power of attorney, then it may be necessary for a loved one to get legal authority to care for their friend or relative and manage property on their behalf.

On a related point, sometimes a power of attorney gets challenged in court. In other cases, an appointed attorney in fact has to be removed from office. In such cases, getting legal authority to care for an incapacitated adult may be necessary.

New Jersey residents can secure this authority by obtaining a guardianship through the court system. Because guardianships are considered a last resort legal option, those wanting to be appointed as a guardian over a loved one have to go through several steps.

First, they must submit proof that a person over 18 is indeed legally incapacitated and thus not able to make important decisions. This may require submitting documentation from experts like physicians, psychologists and the other professionals.

After proving that a loved one is incapacitated, a prospective guardian will still have to show that he or she is the best person to act as the court-appointed guardian. The position of a guardian is, after all, an important responsibility.

A guardianship will give the guardian access to their loved one's property and the power to make critical medical and other decisions on the loved one's behalf. Further, a guardian will have ongoing responsibilities to the court and the protected person that are comparable in many ways to an executor's responsibility during probate and estate administration.

Those New Jersey residents who are interested in pursuing a guardianship should consider speaking to a probate attorney.

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