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Families in New Jersey have options when it comes to guardianship

Sometimes, when a person in New Jersey can no longer handle their own affairs due to mental or physical incapacitation, it is necessary to have someone else manage their affairs for them. Guardianships may be an option, but they should be seen as a last resort, since once a guardianship is established, the incapacitated person loses their basic right to make decisions for themselves. Therefore, it is important for families in New Jersey to understand their options when it comes to guardianship.

One option that can be taken while a person is still able to make choices for themselves is to appoint someone who they trust to serve as Power of Attorney. The individual with POA is allowed to make decisions on that person's behalf if they become incapacitated.

If a person is disabled, in order to appoint a POA, they have to have a basic understanding that the POA will make decisions regarding their life for them. Consent is also needed in order to appoint a POA. A POA can make decisions about either the person, the property or both. It is possible to revoke or alter a POA. POAs, in general, do not cost as much as establishing a guardian. However, it is important to seek the advice of an attorney before creating a POA.

When it comes to seeking guardianship, families have the option of doing so "pro se," that is, without a lawyer. The individual pursuing guardianship will not be represented by an attorney in courtroom proceedings, but, instead, will represent themselves . This might help those who do not want to pay a lawyer when it comes to filing the appropriate paperwork, especially if a family believes they are able to properly do so on their own.

If families want, however, they still have the right to engage the services of a lawyer when going through the guardianship process. If an individual wants to be guardian of both the property and the person, then it is necessary to have legal representation.

In the end, families have choices when it comes to guardianship. Therefore, it may help before making any decisions to first consult with an attorney, who can explain each choice in further detail so families understand what options are available to them.

Source: State of New Jersey, "Guardianship," accessed September 12, 2017

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