Any interested person may apply to the courts of New Jersey for appointment as guardian of an individual (and his or her property) who is incapacitated and unable to handle his or her own affairs. The case is started by the filing of a verified complaint seeking to have the Court determine the person to be incapacitated (formerly, “incompetent”) and the guardian appointed. In the complaint, the specifics of the incapacity are set forth, the next of kin are identified, and the assets and income of the incapacitated person are detailed. The complaint must be accompanied by affidavits of two physicians attesting in detail to the incapacity.
The court will issue an Order setting the matter down for a hearing, and a copy of the papers must be mailed to the next of kin, to allow them the option of attending the hearing. Also, the Order will appoint an attorney for the incapacitated person, and who is to be paid by the person seeking the guardianship or from the assets of the incapacitated person. The attorney will visit the incapacitated person and make a report to the court to support or oppose the guardianship application.
On the hearing date, the incapacitated person may attend the hearing unless his or her attorney advises the court that such attendance is not necessary or beneficial or that the person is not capable of attending. All interested parties are allowed to be heard, and the Court will either make the determination of incapacity and the appointment of the guardian on that date, or may schedule further hearing dates depending upon the circumstances. If the application is unopposed and the attorney for the incapacitated person supports it, then the court may issue the Order without a hearing.
Once appointed, the guardian may be required by the court to post a bond, and must file an annual report with the court relating to the guardianship.
The two most common instances for guardianship are in the case of an elderly individual suffering from lack of mental capacity due to dementia or Alzheimers disease, and in the case of an autistic young adult turning 18 who needs to be protected by the appointment of a legal guardian (usually a parent) to oversee his or her legal and financial affairs..
Mr. Whelan has successfully handled guardianship applications for both senior citizens and young adults. He has also been court appointed on several occasions to serve as attorney for the alleged incapacitated person. His fees are reasonable. Call his office today for a free consultation.