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What are the responsibilities of a court appointed guardian?

In New Jersey, a guardian of the person is an individual appointed by the court to make decisions and act on behalf of a person who cannot make decisions independently. A guardian of the person has certain responsibilities over the protected person.

First, a guardian of the person is responsible for advocating for the independence of the protected person. If possible, any decisions should be discussed with the protected person, whose input should be considered. If the protect person cannot communicate their preferences or if their choices would be harmful to them, the guardian of the person should make decisions that they feel are in the best interests of the protected person.

The guardian of the person also has to arrange for any health, education and welfare services the protected person needs. They will also have to provide the protected person with appropriate activities and social opportunities. In addition, they must visit the protected person at least once every three months.

They are also responsible for making medical decisions on behalf of the protected person. When doing so, they should consider the conditions that make the medical treatment necessary, any risks and benefits of other alternatives, if there are any less restrictive alternatives, how much time there is to take action, what the incapacitated person would have wanted and any other opinions if helpful.

A guardian of the person may have to file periodic reports as to the well-being of the protected person. They will also have to inform the Surrogate if there are many major changes in the protected person's health or welfare. They will also have to notify the Surrogate if their address or the protected person's address changes. Finally, they will have to inform the Surrogate when the protected person dies.

Because guardianship removes a person's fundamental right to make his or her own decisions, it should be viewed as a last resort. For this reason, it may be in a person's best interests to execute a power of attorney while they are still healthy and competent. In a power of attorney, the individual names who they want to make decisions on their behalf, rather than leaving the decision in the hands of the court. However, whether it is through guardianship or a power of attorney, when a person becomes incapacitated it is important that any decisions made on their behalf are in their best interests.

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