There are many reasons a guardianship may be required. A disabled child may be approaching their 18th birthday and require special care once they become an adult. An adult may suffer an injury that prevents them from caring for themselves in some fashion. Or an elderly person can slowly develop dementia, affecting their ability to make decisions. The circumstances may vary greatly and, if guardianship is appropriate, what kind is needed?
New Jersey courts are tasked with appointing appropriate guardians for incapacitated persons, following an investigation into the individual’s incapacity and hearings on the matter. When the court determines that the individual’s incapacitation is complete, they are concluding that the individual is unable to make decisions regarding their own finances, health and well-being and other personal matters.
A general guardian is appointed in these cases. With the appointment, the court grants the guardian all the rights and powers of the incapacitated person, allowing them to make all significant decisions for the individual.
Not all incapacitations are complete. If the court concludes that the individual is incapable making some, but not all, decisions affecting their well-being, a limited guardian may be appointed. The court will make specific findings about the individual’s capacity to make decisions and only grant the guardian power to make decisions in those areas where the individual is lacking. For instance, the guardian may assume decision-making responsibility for financial and legal questions, while the individual retains authority with respect to their health and educational needs.
Sometimes an incapacitation is not permanent. It may be the result of an injury or condition that can be treated or cured given time. Courts can appoint temporary guardians in these cases, so that the authority of the guardian has a definite end. Both general and limited guardians can be temporary, when the circumstances demand it.