Legal guardianship in New Jersey allows one person to take over responsibility for making the financial, legal, medical, residential, vocational and educational decisions for another person.
Guardianship is sometimes awarded to allow one person to assume legal responsibility for an adult with developmental disabilities and sometimes awarded to allow an individual to take responsibility for minor children not being cared for by their birth parents. The Department of Human Services of New Jersey monitors guardianships in conjunction with the court system.
Obtain the Legal Guardianship Kit (Publication 10558) from the New Jersey Judiciary. This online packet contains all of the relevant guardianship forms plus instructions on completing and submitting them.
Complete Form A, Verified Complaint to Appoint Guardian. This form requests information about you and the person over whom you are seeking guardianship, as well as their property. You must also state whether you are seeking a General or Limited guardianship. General guardianship gives you full control over the financial, medical, residential, vocational and educational decision making of an individual, while limited guardianship gives you decision-making control over certain areas, depending on the needs of the individual. This form must be notarized.
Have a physician complete Form B and a psychologist complete Form C after evaluating the person over whom you are seeking guardianship. The medical professionals will use the forms to make recommendations for or against guardianship and will advise on what kind of guardianship (general or limited) they believe is appropriate.
Finish Form D, Order for Hearing, which will be your formal request for a court date. The date, time of hearing and attorney sections should be left blank to be completed by the Surrogate of the county probate court.
Fill in the requested information about yourself on the top of Form E. The rest of the form will be completed and given to you if your guardianship petition is approved.
Submit your completed forms and the filing fee to the County Surrogate. Your county probate court will provide you with the address. As of 2010, the filing fee was $200. Send your forms via certified mail, return receipt requested, so you have proof of delivery.
Await the completed Order for Hearing notice (Form D) the court will send you after processing your forms. This notice will include the hearing date as well as any necessary requests for additional information and directions on serving court papers on the relevant parties.
Serve copies of all of the forms you have submitted and the Order for Hearing to the person over whom you are seeking guardianship as well as their next of kin (if that is not you) by sending them via certified mail, return receipt requested. Even if the person is aware of your guardianship application, they must be formally served.
Complete Forms E and F and send them to the Surrogate at least five days before the hearing date to prove you have met your obligation to serve the court papers. These forms ask for the names of everyone you served and the date on which you mailed the papers.
Attend the hearing and sign the documents confirming your guardianship, if approved. If you are awarded control over property of the individual, you may be required to file a surety bond with the court to protect that property.
Although you are not required to have an attorney, the New Jersey Judiciary recommends that you have one to help you navigate the complicated legal process.
The Bureau of Guardianship Services of the Department of Human Services can handle the court process for you, but as of 2010, they have a backlog of more than 4,000 cases. They recommend you use the court system directly.
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