Sometimes, it is necessary to become the guardian of an adult for the purpose of protecting that person’s finances. The adult may be the biological child of the person or may be a relative of a disabled person.

Obtaining Guardianship of a Relative

If it has been determined that a relative needs a guardian, you can go through the process of becoming your relative’s guardian through New Jersey’s Bureau of Guardianship Services, but this is not the only option that you have. You can also obtain a lawyer and approach the process privately. People choose this option because it tends to move things along faster than working with the BGS. In the event that your relative has a large sum of money, you will be likely want to seek the conservatorship with a private attorney.

Determine Who Will Be the Guardian

The state agency that handles these matters must ensure that everyone related to the person is aware that he or she is in need of a guardian so that all interested parties may join the process. It’s possible for more than one person to be appointed in this capacity.

Get a Psychological Evaluation

BGS will set up an appointment with a psychologist. The psychologist’s job will be to determine whether or not the person actually needs a guardian and the type of guardianship that is most appropriate. A general guardianship gives the guardian the right to make all decisions for the person in question. A limited guardianship gives the guardian the duty to make decisions in a particular area. One example is a medical guardianship where the guardian makes medical decisions only.

Obtain a Court Recommendation

This third step requires you to receive a court recommendation. The psychological evaluation will help the court determine whether a guardianship is necessary. It will decide to grant a limited guardianship or a general guardianship. BGS must send you the Certification and Acceptance of Guardianship forms for you to sign. You must notarize these documents and return them right away. Otherwise, BGS will take over as the guardian of your relative. The state may be able to pay for the process if you plan to use a private attorney.

File the Paperwork

BGS will file the paperwork. It will set a court date within the next four to six months. All interested parties will receive a document that lets them know when this date will be. The Department of Public Advocate Office will represent the interests of the person in need of a guardian. This person will need to be interviewed by someone from this office.

Client-attorney confidentiality requires some of this interview to be conducted in a private setting. The representative from the agency will call you for an interview as well. The representative’s report will state whether or not he or she agrees that the person in question needs a guardian. It also gives an opinion on the choice of the guardian.

Attend a Hearing

The parties may need to attend a hearing. This will not be required if the representative did not oppose a guardian for the person in question. In this case, the court will sign its judgment without holding a hearing. You and your relative will not have to go to court if this occurs.

The representative may also disagree with the need to appoint a guardian for your relative. If this is the case, you and your relative will have to attend a hearing. Sometimes, you can skip this step because you can come to an agreement outside of court.

Get a Judgment

The court will sign a judgment that appoints a guardian for your relative, and you will receive a copy along with the Letters of Guardianship.

If you would like to consult with a lawyer who handles these types of matters, contact us at the Knee Law Firm. We are located in Hackensack, New Jersey, and you can call us at (210) 996-1200 or submit our online form.