New Jersey Guardianship for a Vulnerable Adult

Posted on: September 8th, 2014 by Mark R. Friedman

When seniors suffer from Alzheimer’s, dementia or other mental ailments, they can become vulnerable to exploitation.

We have seen folks have their accounts drained by new “friends” and lovers, become the victim of obvious scams, make terrible financial decisions on the advice of self-serving salesmen, and plow through their savings buying needless items from home shopping outlets.

The thing is, usually these are folks who have always been responsible in the past. They don’t recognize that their judgment is now being clouded by illness. They worked hard to make their money, and they won’t have anyone else tell them what to do with it.

If any of this sounds familiar with your parent or spouse, then you may wish to apply for guardianship.

A guardianship is a protective arrangement ordered by a court, in which a guardian is appointed to make decisions for a ward. The guardian can take control of the ward’s finances or prohibit certain people from visiting.

To appoint a guardian, the court must find that the ward lacks capacity. “Capacity” means having the mental wherewithal to make serious decisions and understand their consequences. Not having capacity due to an illness is called being “incapacitated.”

If you are seeking guardianship over someone, you will have to prove he is incapacitated. You must submit affidavits from two doctors who have recently examined the person (the court can order an examination if the person refuses). The court will assign the person his own lawyer, who will interview him and advocate for what he wants.

Appointing a guardian is a radical measure that takes away a person’s autonomy, so courts do so only where necessary, and in the least restrictive manner possible. The court can create a limited guardianship – for example, where the guardian only has power over certain financial accounts, or limited amounts. In an emergency situation, the court can also freeze bank accounts and appoint a temporary guardian.

If you are interested in applying for guardianship for a vulnerable adult, we are here to help. Call us today at (908) 704-1900 for more information.

As this website provides general information and isn’t tailored to your particular situation, it doesn’t constitute legal advice and may not take into account rules and exceptions that affect you. Although updated from time to time, this website may not take account of recent legal developments or differences in laws from state to state. For safety sake, obtain individual legal advice before you act! You assume all risk of acting on information contained in this website. This website doesn’t constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship exists unless FriedmanLaw and you execute a written engagement agreement. Please contact us at 908-704-1900 to discuss engaging FriedmanLaw to help resolve your legal concerns.
Homepage photo: Cows grazing at Meadowbrook Farm, Bernardsville, NJ by Siddharth Mallya. October 23, 2012.
Interior photo: Somerset hills pastoral scene by Lawrence Friedman.