Guardianship – An Overview

Unfortunately, our loved ones are not always able to look after their own affairs and need help with financial and medical decision making. This could be due to a decline in physical or mental health or due to a developmental disability.  These types of guardianships have different responsibilities and it is important to apply for the correct one. There are also two areas for which to apply for guardianship of an individual, the first is over their person,  and the second is over their  estate. 

A general guardianship is for an elderly or disabled individual who is incapacitated and unable to make complete decisions with respect to or manage their own affairs. A general guardianship gives the guardian the power to exercise all rights and powers of the incapacitated person, iin the areas that the Court grants. The Court could grant a general guardianship over just the incapacitated person or just the incapacitated person’s estate – or both. There is also a limited guardianship, where the Court would determine that the incapacited person lacks the ability to do certain tasks, but not all. In that case the guardian would be limited to those areas that the incapacitated individual is unable to do themselves. 

There is also a guardianship of an individual eligible for services from the Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD), commonly referred to as a “DDD guardianship.” In most cases, a DDD guardianship is for someone who is already receiving benefits from the Division of Developmental Disabilities. Usually these are done when a child with a developmental disability reaches the age of majority.  Not every individual with a developmental disability requires a guardian. For example, if the child does not have any serious chronic health issues, a guardianship may not be required. These guardianships are not permanent, and in fact the DDD guardianships are reviewed annually by the Department of Developmental Disabilities to determine if a guardian continues to be necessary. 

While the circumstances may be different between a general and limited guardianships and a DDD guardianship, the applications are very similar. They all require an affidavit or certification from a physician or psychologist who has treated the individual recently. After that is received a complaint is filed with the Court that has all the necessary supporting documents.

If you have a loved one who is incapacitated and needs a guardian, Wolf Law is here to help. Call us at 732-741-4448 for a free consultation.