Firm Logo

Guardianship Attorney in NJ

Guardianship Attorney in NJ and NYC

The Dedicated Lawyers of Choi Law Firm Provide Skilled Legal Counsel in New York Guardianship Proceedings, Serving Clients in Bergen County, Hudson County, Queens County, Long Island, and Throughout North Jersey and NYC

If you have a family member who suffers from physical and/or mental incapacity that renders them unable to handle their personal, legal, medical, or financial needs on their own, it may be necessary to appoint someone who can make those important decisions on behalf of your loved one and protect their safety and interests. A guardianship or conservatorship is a legal arrangement in which an individual is appointed by the court to handle legal, medical, or financial decisions for a person who the court has designated incapacitated and unable to make such decisions for themselves. When you have a loved one who may need or is already subject to guardianship, a qualified guardianship attorney in NJ from Choi Law Firm can help you protect your loved one’s rights.

Since 2005, Choi Law Firm has worked diligently to provide excellent legal services to clients throughout New York City and New Jersey. Our attorneys bring their 40-plus years of combined legal experience to the table to develop tailored solutions to our clients’ legal problems and disputes. Our reputation for success is reflected by the fact that our clients refer us when they have family or friends who need high-quality legal assistance. 

Our guardianship law firm handles cases in Bergen County, Hudson County, Queens County, Long Island, and throughout North Jersey and NYC. Reach out to us today for a consultation to discuss the details of your case with our experienced legal team. 

Dealing With A Legal Guardianship Matter In New Jersey Or New York? We Can Help. Just Tell Us About Your Case. Call 201-482-4825 Or Fill Out Our Convenient Online Contact Form.

When Does it Become Necessary to Seek a Legal Guardianship?

If an adult member of your family becomes incapacitated, it may be necessary to seek a legal guardianship to protect their finances and to ensure they receive the best care possible.

In New Jersey, a person is generally considered to be in need of a guardianship when he or she lacks the mental capability to make rational decisions and understanding the consequences resulting from those decisions. A person can’t be declared in need of a guardianship simply because he or she makes irresponsible or foolish decisions.  The law requires the person to show a lack of capacity (i.e., a lack of understanding) to make sound decisions concerning their general health, welfare, and safety, their financial well-being, or both. 

While many times, a durable power of attorney, living will, and advance healthcare directive can obviate the need for guardianship proceedings, that is not always the case.

Guardianship proceedings may become costly if litigation is required, either because of infighting between family members or situations where the incapacitated person does not acknowledge his or her own limitations. 

Pre-planning to avoid litigation, or brokered agreements once, are always ideal. But sometimes litigation is unavoidable. Luckily, the Rules of Court of the State of New Jersey frequently permit a party seeking appointment as Guardian to recover his or her reasonable counsel fees from the incapacitated person’s assets.

We are experienced at handling complicated guardianship proceedings, should they become necessary.

Types of Guardianships: Person vs. Property

General Guardianship: The Broadest Powers Allowed by Law

The New Jersey Superior Court may grant a general guardianship over person and property when the individual is completely incapacitated. That necessitates a finding that the person not only lacks the capacity to manage her finances, but lacks the capacity to govern his or her personal affairs in any meaningful way. Because a guardianship deprives a loved one of almost all decision-making, a judge will require clear and convincing evidence that a state of incapacity exists, supported by appropriate physician certifications. However, each case is different, and we would need to review your specific situation to evaluate the case and to determine what proof is needed by the court.

A guardianship is a court-appointment granting plenary responsibility over an incapacitated individual, tantamount to the relationship between a parent and a small child. Just a few examples of the profound decision-making powers of a guardian are:

  1. Choice of where the person lives (at home with assisted living, in a nursing home or other institutional setting, etc.) 
  2. Control over financial affairs
  3. Control over legal affairs
  4. Power to restrict or even prevent visitation by predatory family members or “friends” of the incapacitated person. 
  5. Medicaid and assert protection planning
  6. Medical decision-making for the incapacitated person

Given the broad powers of general guardians, courts take guardianship applications very seriously. Needless to say, the substantive and procedural rules are complex and must be followed with laser0lke precision.  

Limited Guardianships

Oftentimes, incapacity is not an “all-or-nothing” proposition. Rather, it will fall somewhere along a spectrum—i.e., a person can make responsible choices in certain aspects of their life, but not others. For example, managing complex finances has become too daunting, but a person is still capable of some independent living. 

In such cases, a judge may appoint a guardianship and grant decision-making power over only the areas in which the incapacitated person is unable to make meaningful decisions on his or her own. This is called a “limited guardianship”.

Get Advice From An Experienced Guardianship Attorney Serving Clients In New Jersey And New York. All You Have To Do Is Call 201-482-4825 To Receive Your Confidential Case Evaluation.

Who Can Qualify to Serve as Guardian

The law favors appointment of a spouse or close family member. Where family members—referred to as “next of kin” in the Court Rules—cannot agree. Cooperation or power-sharing are always best, but sometimes the court has to make the final call after a trial. In addition, non-family members can be appointed as guardians of the person or property of another, in certain situations. For instance, a distant cousin from another state may technically outrank a close friend in the pecking order, but the friend may be best-suited to serve as the guardian. Ultimately, what guides the court’s analysis is a determination on the best interests of the incapacitated person. Court battles can be emotionally draining, but we handle all guardianship proceedings with sensitivity for everyone involved.

Guardianship vs. Conservatorship

In New Jersey, a proceeding to protect the finances of an adult is called a “conservatorship.” Like a guardianship, a conservatorship is a court-supervised arrangement for a person (called a “conservatee”) who cannot handle his or her own financial affairs. The person appointed by the court to manage the affairs of another is called the “conservator.”

A conservatorship never conveys decision-making over personal affairs, like living arrangements or medical decision-making. The power granted to a conservator extends to financial and legal matters only. The main distinction between a limited guardianship of a person’s property and a conservatorship is that a conservatorship is voluntary. Technically, the person needing assistance is the one petitioning the court for appointment of a conservator. But if the incapacitated person does not agree (and often, the person may not recognize his or her own limitations, and thereby become angry or confused), a guardianship proceeding is necessary.

Can a Power of Attorney Avoid a Guardianship Proceeding?

The best way to deal with a guardianship situation may be to avoid it beforehand. As part of any comprehensive estate plan, we recommend preparation of a power of attorney, advance directive and healthcare proxy. As Benjamin Franklin famously stated, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Oftentimes, clients who come to us for guidance in a guardianship situation involving a friend or relative will simultaneously galvanize their own estate plan.

Types of Legal Matters An Experienced Guardianship Attorney in NJ and NYC Can Represent You and Your Loved Ones In

A New York guardianship proceedings lawyer at Choi Law Firm has the experience and resources necessary to offer excellent legal representation in guardianship matters in North Jersey and throughout NYC such as:

  • Filing court petitions to implement a guardianship or conservatorship for a loved one who has difficulty or an inability to handle their own affairs
  • Contesting actions under a previously executed power of attorney, establishing a guardianship/conservatorship to recover or prevent “theft” or loss of an incapacitated individual’s assets
  • Opposition by the subject of the guardianship on grounds that they are not incapacitated
  • Disputes between family members/close loved ones over who should serve as guardian, or petitions to remove and replace an existing guardian/conservator
  • Disputes over appointing a professional to serve as guardian as opposed to a family member
  • Expenses of the guardianship, including reimbursements to a family member serving as guardian or the cost to hire a professional guardian, or other costs including hiring lawyers, accountants, or financial planners
  • Whether to set aside powers of attorney, health care proxies, or advance care directives previously executed by the subject of guardianship, if they lacked the capacity to execute such documents 

How Choi Law Firm Can Help You and Your Family Resolve a Guardianship Dispute in New York or New Jersey

Whether you are seeking to establish a guardianship for an incapacitated loved one, are opposing the imposition of a guardianship on yourself, or you wish to contest details of a family member’s guardianship, our guardianship law firm can assist you with obtaining a fair and favorable outcome in your matter by:

  • Providing close communication throughout your case, including prompt responses to your phone calls and emails to answer your questions and provide you with updates on the progress of the matter.
  • Offering excellent legal representation, including putting in the time and work necessary to develop and present you with a wide range of options to pursue an outcome favorable to your interests.
  • Taking advantage of our legal team’s knowledge and experience to diligently advocate on behalf of you or your loved one to fight for a successful result in your case.
  • Quickly acting where necessary to protect and preserve your or your loved one’s interests, especially when guardianship proceedings can move very quickly or where your loved one’s safety or security is at stake. 

When you need advice that you can rely on, Choi Law Firm can offer the seasoned legal experience and knowledge you deserve. 

Contact a Guardianship Attorney in NJ at Choi Law Firm for an Initial Case Review to Discuss Your Legal Options in Your Guardianship Matter

When you are considering establishing a guardianship for a loved one or find yourself in the midst of a contested guardianship proceeding, turn to our firm for the experienced legal advocacy that can help you protect your loved one’s interests. Contact Choi Law Firm today for an initial case evaluation to learn more about guardianships and how we can assist you with your matter. 

Frequently Asked Questions about Legal Guardianship in NYC and NJ

What is a guardian?

A guardian is an individual who is appointed by the court to make healthcare and personal decisions on behalf of an individual who cannot make those decisions or who cannot voice their preferences for themselves due to illness, injury, or physical or mental disability. Similar to but distinct from a guardian is a conservator, who is a person appointed by the court to handle a disabled, ill, injured, or otherwise incapacitated person’s financial affairs.

Who can serve as a guardian?

Courts normally appoint a close family member or friend to serve as guardian, as they are likely to know what the incapacitated person’s wishes would likely be if they were not incapacitated. However, if no suitable family members or friends are available to serve, courts will usually appoint a specially trained attorney who regularly serves as a professional guardian in guardianship cases.

Can a guardianship be avoided by having the person who would be the subject of the guardianship sign a durable power of attorney?

No. For a power of attorney to be valid, the person executing the power of attorney must have the capacity to understand their rights and the consequences of their decision and the ability to clearly express their wishes. Someone who has been declared incapacitated by the court lacks this ability and cannot execute a valid durable power of attorney. However, a durable power of attorney executed by someone become they became incapacitated would likely be valid and eliminate the need for a guardian.

“I always felt that they were genuinely fighting for me; truly looking out for my best interests."

I am very grateful for Sandra Choi and her team. They were kind, compassionate, thorough and very professional throughout the entire process of my case. I always felt that they were listening to my concerns and interests and provided all the professional advice and answers to my questions that I needed to feel confident about my decisions.”

“One of the best things about Ms. Choi is that she is caring and listens carefully to understand your situation."

Sandra Choi is attentive, kind, thoughtful, and professional. She was thorough and well-prepared throughout my case, and I was impressed by her honesty and work ethic. Ms. Choi and her team were helpful and responsive to my questions and concerns, and she certainly exceeded my expectations. I highly recommend Ms. Choi and her team.

100% Secure. We respect your privacy. See here.

© 2022 Choi Law Firm. All Rights Reserved.Disclaimer.Site Map.