Taking on the responsibility of serving as a person’s guardian is a large undertaking. Those who decide to accept it are expected to adhere to basic principles. In New Jersey, when there are issues with the guardianship, those who are concerned about the person who needs to be cared for should understand their options. One problem that might arise is if the guardian is failing in their duty to serve the person’s best interests. This may sound like a broad generalization, but there are specifics to be aware of. To protect the person whose interests are not at the forefront, it is wise to know the legal avenues available.
What is the best interest standard?
An incapacitated person will have fundamental needs that must be met. The incapacitated person’s best interests are paramount. This means that the individual must take precedence if they need a medical procedure, must move from their current residence to a safer one or there are financial decisions to be made.
Depending on when the person became incapacitated, the guardian will have a wide range of choices. If the person was incapacitated from birth or a young age, they likely never expressed their preferences for most situations. If the person became incapacitated later in life and the guardian was familiar with their wants and needs, then there will be a baseline to follow as to what they would probably want. Regardless, the best interest standard is always there. The primary goal is to protect them.
Often, there are other people who care about the incapacitated person’s well-being. If they think that the current guardian is not acting in the person’s best interests, they can consider contesting the guardianship. For example, if the incapacitated person had adult children and one was named the guardian but they are using property for personal gain, other adult children can try to have that guardian removed.
Professional representation is crucial in guardianship cases
A contested guardianship case can be complicated and emotionally challenging. Regardless of the perspective, it is important to have professional help. This is true for the current guardian, those who are calling the guardian’s behavior into question and others. Since these cases are so difficult, it is wise to know the alternatives from the start. This will hinge on the situation. Discussing the case with experienced people can give advice on what steps to take.