New Jersey Guardianship Laws:
In the state of New Jersey, at age 18, all individuals, including those with severe disabilities, reach the legal age of majority. This simply means that at the age of 18, parents can no longer make decisions legally on behalf of their kids, regardless of the nature of their disability and regardless of whether the children still live with their family.
Some New Jersey families will consider New Jersey Guardianship as an option for a family member. A New Jersey Guardian is defined as any person or agency appointed by a court to act on behalf of a person.
How Do I Establish NJ Guardianship?
Establishing NJ guardianship is a legal process that ultimately requires the inclusion of the Bureau of Guardianship Services at the Department of Human Services. New Jersey Guardianship; however, may be established without this agency’s help.
In all matters, New Jersey Guardianship must be viewed as a solution of last resort, because it strips an individual’s fundamental right of self-determination. Before applying for New Jersey Guardianship you should observe alternatives that may be more suitable for your family member.
Before applying for New Jersey Guardianship you must be aware, as a parent, of the following:
• NJ guardianship law states that parents of a New Jersey Guardianship can remain involved in their child’s medical issues and may be asked to provide consent as next-of-kin in emergency situations
• NJ guardianship law declares that all applications for New Jersey Guardianship require up-to-date assessments from either a psychiatrist or psychologist or from a licensed medical doctor
• NJ guardianship law declares that guardianships may be family members, other interested parties or agencies such as the Bureau of Guardianship Services. NJ guardianship law declares that Co-guardians may also be named. A co-guardian in New Jersey refers to the following:
o NJ guardianship law declares that more than one individual appointed as a guardian; each individual possesses uniform decision-making authority
o NJ guardianship law declares that The Bureau will never act as a co-guardian
o NJ guardianship law declares that Co-guardians must be involved together in consents and decisions required for the individual.
Limited New Jersey Guardianships:
Guardianship of the individual may take one of two forms: limited or general
General New Jersey Guardianships:
• Often referred to as ‘plenary New Jersey guardianships’
• NJ guardianship law recommends these for people who are found incapable of expressing or making decisions
Limited New Jersey Guardianships:
• Limited New Jersey Guardianships cover decision-making concerning educational, residential, legal, vocational, medical and financial issues
• Limited New Jersey Guardianships are appropriate for individuals who are found capable of expressing or making some, but not all, life decisions.
Family Options for New Jersey Guardianships:
New Jersey families must be aware that are awarded the following options with regards to New Jersey guardianships:
1. Individuals may appoint Powers of Attorney to render decisions on his or her behalf.
a. NJ guardianship law declares that those individuals with disabilities are required to understand—on a rudimentary level—that they are appointing someone to make decisions on their behalf
b. NJ guardianship law declares that the individual appointing a power of attorney must be able to agree to the decision
c. NJ guardianship law declares that the power of attorney may cover a property and/or a person
d. Powers of attorney—according to New Jersey guardianship laws—may be revoked and/or changed at any juncture, based on evolving needs
e. Powers of attorneys are significantly less costly than NJ Guardianships
f. Based on NJ guardianship law , it is suggested that you with a legal professional to establish powers of attorneys
2. New Jersey families may pursue New Jersey guardianships without the inclusion of an attorney
a. The individual seeking guardianship must represent him or herself in the court of law
i. The exclusion of an attorney in these situations eliminates the cost of hiring a legal professional to file a petition
ii. Without an attorney the party still must satisfy the following costs: New Jersey guardianships assessments rendered by a physician or psychologist, court fees and the required court-appointed attorney to represent the person.
3. New Jersey families may hire a legal specialist at their own accord to complete the entire process for them
a. Relatives or interested parties may opt to pursue appointment as a New Jersey guardian privately, at their own expense
4. Families may ask the New Jersey Guardianship Services to process guardianship petition; however…
a. Roughly 4,000 requests are currently pending
b. The process is required for New Jersey Guardianships of the person only
c. Families seeking New Jersey Guardianship with regards to property should hire an attorney
Applying for New Jersey Guardianship:
Forms and instructions for New Jersey Guardianships may be found here.
To receive services funded by the Division of Developmental Disabilities, individuals must apply to become eligible. The criteria regarding eligibility is outlined by New Jersey state law. The application process for New Jersey Guardianships is lengthy and time-consuming; the Division of Developmental Disabilities requires exhaustive documentation to help determine whether a person’s functional limitations fall within eligibility criteria.
As a general rule, to receive Division of developmental Disability-funded services, an individual must show that they possess a chronic physical, severe and/or mental impairment that:
• Manifests before the age of 22
• Is lifelong and aggressively limits the individual in least three of the following life activities: learning; mobility, communication; self-direction; economic self-sufficiency; the ability to live independently and self-face