Guardianship Summary

Guardianship in NJ

Age 18: All individuals are legally considered to be an adult upon turning 18. Parents may no longer make any decisions on behalf of their children, regardless of their disability.

Parents or family members may want to consider applying for guardianship if:

    • an individual has a clinically diagnosed medical condition and
    • is unable to make or communicate effective decisions about their everyday self-care, health, and safety.

What is a guardian: A person appointed by a court that acts on behalf of an individual to ensure that the person’s health, safety and welfare needs are met and that his or her rights are protected. The duties of a guardian also include making decisions on behalf of the individual and giving informed consent in certain matters.

Types of guardianship:

Guardianship of the person:

General guardianship is typically for individuals who have been found incapable of making or expressing any decisions. Gives guardian full responsibility.

Limited guardianship allows the individual to retain the right to make certain decisions. May include decisions on housing, medical treatment, education, vocational services, finances and legal matters. It maximizes autonomy while providing protection from harm.

Guardianship of the property - Only necessary if the individual has assets in his or her name. A guardian can be appointed guardian of the person, the property or both.

Alternative to guardianship

  1. Power of Attorney (POAs) - Provides more autonomy than guardianship. The individual must be able to understand on some level that he or she is appointing someone to make decisions on his or her behalf. There are two types of POAs-General and Health Care
  2. Supported Decision Making - it allows individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to make choices about their own lives with support from a team of people.

    See information sheet regarding Supported Decision Making for more information:

How to complete the Guardianship process:

  1. Do it Yourself
  2. Get Assistance from nonprofits
  3. Hire an Attorney

For more detailed information regarding guardianship, see the page Guardianship Detailed Information

For more detailed information regarding Supported Decision Making, see this Link