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Thomas N. Torzewski, LLC

When recovery conflicts with continued guardianship

Guardianships are extremely important tools directed at protecting vulnerable adults in New Jersey when they are unable to take care of their own needs and decision-making. Often, they are permanent in nature because the adult is not going to recover or improve enough to become mentally self-sufficient.

However, sometimes they do recover enough to warrant a removal of the guardianship.

Elderly fall and head injury results in public guardian

As reported by USA Today, not long ago, a 75-year-old gentleman suffered a fall that resulted in a head injury. The state declared him mentally incapacitated and appointed a public guardian to care for his assets and medical care.

The state then moved the man into a $5,000 per month assisted living home. Reportedly, the gentleman recovered from his injuries and regained his mental capacity within eight to nine months of the accident. However, the wheels of guardianship justice may have turned far too slow.

Stuck in an expensive guardianship, despite recovery

The man remained under the control of his appointed guardian until nearly two years following his injury. By that time, his guardian had spent his assets, including $65,000 in savings, keeping him in an expensive assisted living facility that he arguably did not need after the first several months.

His townhome a mere six miles from his assisted living location went into foreclosure, and bills accrued which remained unpaid by the public guardian. His guardian sold his furniture to cover his other expenses unrelated to his own property. By the time he achieved his rights to his own autonomy, he had lost his assets.

Of note, despite requests for an accounting of the expenditures of his assets and money, he has not yet received any such writing.

Contested guardianships are not unusual, but they can be complex. They often involve changing a guardian whom family members believe is not doing a good job. It is unclear whether the gentleman who is the subject of the USA Today report had the benefit of an attorney when he first recovered. If he did not, that may be why his contest took such a long time to resolve.

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