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General versus limited guardianships

This blog has previously discussed the topic of guardianships in New Jersey. In the absence of a valid power of attorney, a family may need to request a guardianship over an adult, such as an aging parent or even an adult child, who is physically or mentally unable to care for themselves.

New Jersey law allows for two different types of guardianship over a person. The first type, called a general guardianship, gives the legal guardian full decision-making authority over the person's life. To give a comparison, for the most part, the guardian has the same power and authority over the adult as a parent has over a minor child.

The second type of guardianship is called a limited guardianship. As the name implies, the guardian in this sort of case has limited authority to make decisions for the person being protected. Generally, these limitations will be set out in the court's orders. An example of this type of guardianship would be where a judge decides to allow a guardian to make decisions about certain medical treatments or financial transactions but will continue to allow the person to decide where to live.

What kind of guardianship a family chooses to pursue will depend heavily on the individual needs and circumstances of the person's case. For instance, New Jersey courts will favor allowing people to manage their own affairs as much as possible. On a practical level, this means that if there is medical evidence that a person can make certain decisions, then the judge will allow him or her to do so.

No matter the type of guardianship, families who are pursuing protection for a disabled loved one need to remember that, much like the probate process, setting up and administering a guardianship is a complicated affair. Getting the assistance of a legal professional is often a good idea.

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