Guardianship Support / Guardianship Monitoring Program

Court appointed legal guardians make decisions for incapacitated people about personal and medical care, meals, transportation, and even where a person lives. Guardians control assets, manage budgets, pay debts, and make all financial and investment decisions for the people they assist.

“Census data and health care experts tell us that the population of elderly and disabled Americans will grow dramatically in coming years. We must take steps now to meet the increased need for protection with an enhanced level of oversight of legal guardians." - Chief Justice Stuart Rabner


Government is responsible for ensuring that guardians understand the significant authority and responsibility of guardianship, and for monitoring the health and well-being along with the finances of every incapacitated person under the care of a legal guardian.  It is the only way to eliminate opportunities for abuse.

The New Jersey Judiciary provides guardianship support through its Guardian Essentials and the Guardianship Monitoring Program.

GUARDIAN ESSENTIALS

Instructions and guidance for prospective and appointed guardians concerning the duties of guardianship.

Guardian Reporting Forms

General Court Information

Frequently Asked Questions:
  • What is a guardianship?[+]
  • A guardianship is established when a Superior Court, Probate Part judge declares a person incapacitated and appoints a guardian to oversee the incapacitated individual’s well-being and/or financial affairs.

    Incapacitated individuals are adults impaired by mental illness or deficiency, physical illness or disability, chronic use of drugs, chronic alcoholism, developmental disability or other causes, to the extent that they cannot govern themselves and manage their affairs.

  • How do I establish a guardianship?[+]
  • To establish guardianship for an incapacitated adult (over age of 18), a verified complaint must be filed with the Surrogate’s Court in the county where the alleged incapacitated person resides. The complaint must include particular information and must be supported by affidavits of physicians based upon recent examinations of the alleged incapacitated person.

    Once a complaint is filed, the court will enter an order appointing an attorney for the alleged incapacitated person and schedule a hearing. If the court determines that the person is incapacitated, then a judgment will be entered appointing guardian(s). Before the guardian(s) can act on behalf of the incapacitated person, they must appear before the County Surrogate to qualify as guardian, including by posting a bond if required.

    Note: Especially in complex or contested matters, it is a good idea to get a lawyer to assist with a guardianship application. Also, click here for the information and form packet necessary to establish guardianship for an adult eligible for or currently receiving services through the Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD)

  • As a court-appointed guardian, am I required to report to the court about my handling of the guardianship?[+]
  • In many cases, the Judgment of Incapacity and Guardian Appointment will direct the guardian to file periodic reports. If reports are required, the Judgment will specify when they must be filed. Often, reporting is required on an annual basis on the anniversary date of the guardian’s appointment. For information about guardian reporting forms, review the Introductory Instructions.

    Questions regarding completion of guardian reporting forms can be directed to the Civil Practice Division, Administrative Office of the Courts by phone (609) 292-8470 or via email at: njguardianship.mbx@judiciary.state.nj.us. Questions regarding how to file guardian reporting forms can be directed to the appropriate County Surrogate's Office.

  • How many adults are affected by guardianships?[+]
  • Guardianship records are maintained at the county level, and the number of active guardianships statewide is presently unknown. Between July 2006 and June 2008, approximately 3,900 guardians were appointed (i.e., less than 2,000 per year).  In 2012 and 2014, approximately 2,400 and 2,600 guardians were appointed, respectively.

    Guardianships for elderly citizens suffering from dementia, Alzheimer's disease or other debilitating conditions can last for many years. Guardianships for developmentally disabled young adults can last for decades.

   

GUARDIANSHIP MONITORING PROGRAM

The Guardianship Monitoring Program (GMP) provides an ongoing relationship between guardians and the court in support of the best interests of incapacitated individuals. Volunteers supplement limited government resources.

Program Overview 

  • Overview of the Judiciary Guardianship Monitoring Program [+]
  • The New Jersey Judiciary Guardianship Monitoring Program (GMP) is a comprehensive statewide volunteer-based court program established to monitor guardians in their handling of the affairs of incapacitated individuals, including elderly and developmentally disabled adults. The GMP monitors guardianship cases to ensure that guardians of incapacitated persons are performing their duties appropriately. Monitoring and oversight of guardianships helps identify, address, prevent, and deter activities that are harmful to incapacitated individuals.

    Trained GMP volunteers use the Guardianship Monitoring System (GMS), a computer application comprised of a statewide guardianship database and a report review tool, to track and follow up on guardianship files. The volunteers’ work ensures that guardians comply with statutory and court-ordered requirements to file documents and reports and manage the affairs of incapacitated individuals effectively.

Volunteer Opportunities

  • Counties Currently in Need of GMP Volunteers: 

Information for Prospective Volunteers

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Why is GMP necessary? [+]
  • Guardianship monitoring provides a two-way relationship between guardians and the court to act in the best interests of incapacitated individuals. It is a natural extension of the role of the court to protect those who are legally unable to act on their own behalf. It is also supported by New Jersey law.

    Most guardians are caring family members or friends devoted to the care and well-being of incapacitated individuals. However, a small percentage of guardians have engaged in documented cases of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of incapacitated persons.

    As New Jersey’s populations of aging adults and individuals with disabilities increase, the number of guardianships also is expected to increase. Unfortunately, this could result in increased opportunities for abuse, neglect, and exploitation by guardians.

    Although several New Jersey surrogates’ offices maintain county-based volunteer guardianship monitoring programs, the need for guardianship monitoring exists statewide. The New Jersey Judiciary has responded to this need by establishing the GMP.

  • What is the goal of the GMP? [+]
  • The goal of the GMP is to safeguard and reduce the potential for abuse and exploitation of incapacitated individuals by their guardians. The program is committed to helping ensure that these vulnerable members of society are treated with dignity and respect, while also assisting guardians in their sometimes difficult role.

  • How is this goal achieved? [+]
  • The GMP monitors guardianship cases to ensure that guardians of incapacitated persons are performing their duties appropriately. Monitoring and oversight of guardianships helps identify, address, prevent, and deter activities that are harmful to incapacitated individuals.

    Trained GMP volunteers use the Guardianship Monitoring System (GMS), a computer application comprised of a statewide guardianship database and a report review tool, to track and follow up on guardianship files. The volunteers’ work ensures that guardians comply with statutory and court-ordered requirements to file documents and reports and manage the affairs of incapacitated individuals effectively.

     
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