A time may come when the person you love and care about – a spouse, a parent or a grandparent– becomes unable to care for themselves due to an illness or age-related limitations. When this happens, you may consider becoming their legal guardian. But what exactly does this mean?
Basically, guardianship is the process of obtaining the legal authority to act on behalf of another person. Depending on the type of guardianship, the guardian may be involved in the protected person’s day-to-day life.
Why might guardianship be necessary?
Most often, adults have the legal right to make their own legal decisions. A guardianship may be needed when the adult in question is incapacitated, meaning that they can no longer take care of themselves due to a mental incapacity, disease or other forms of mental deficiency.
What types of guardianship are there?
There are generally three types of guardianship:
- Guardianship over the individual: This guardianship means that the guardian will assume responsibility for the well-being of the protected individual. In this case, the guardian may be responsible for medical and healthcare decisions, food as well as where the person will live.
- Guardianship over the estate: This type of guardianship empowers the designated guardian to make decisions over the protected person’s estate. This may include financial decisions like buying and disposing of assets on behalf of the protected person.
- Guardianship over the protected person and their estate: This type of guardianship combines the protected individual and their property.
Most often, guardianship over an adult last until the protected person regains their ability to care for themselves or until their demise.
Protecting your best interests
When a loved one loses their independence, pursuing guardianship may be prudent. Learning more about New Jersey guardianship laws can help you safeguard your best interests while designating a guardian for your loved one.