What is a Guardian? What is an Incapacitated Person

A guardian is a person who, by court appointment, has the authority to make decisions for an incapacitated person.   An incapacitated person is an adult impaired by mental illness or deficiency, physical illness or disability, chronic use of drugs, chronic alcoholism, developmental disability or other cause, to the extent that he cannot govern himself and manage his affairs. 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. A guardian is a fiduciary position of trust with responsibilities to the incapacitated person and the court.

What do I Need to File in Order to Initiate Guardianship of an Alleged Incapacitated Adult?

The Essex County Surrogate's Court does not provide pro se forms or examples of pleadings for guardianships of mentally incapacitated persons.  While independent legal consultation and/or representation is highly recommended, guidance can be found at the New Jersey Judiciary's website.

You must prepare and submit the original and at least one (1) copy of the following documents in such form promulgated by the Administrative Director of the Courts:

·         Adult Guardianship Case Information Statement;

·         Verified Complaint;

·         Affidavit or Certification of Assets;

·         Affidavit or Certifications of Physician or Psychologist for two (2) physicians or one (1) physician and one (1) psychologist based on an examination performed on the alleged incapacitated person within six (6) months prior to the date you file the complaint in Surrogate's Court;                                                                                                

·         Affidavit or Certification in Support of the Guardianship or Individualized Education Program (IEP) prepared within two (2) years of the complaint;

·         Order Fixing Guardianship Hearing Proposed  and Appointing Attorney for Alleged Incapacitated Person;  

·         Judgment of Incapacity and Appointment of Guardian; and

·          Any supporting exhibit documents or proofs that you want considered in support of the complaint.


Once Appointed, Where Can I Get the Guardianship Reporting Forms?

Generally, an individual appointed as a guardian of the person, estate, or person and estate of an incapacitated person must periodically report to the court regarding the guardianship. Forms have been developed and approved by the Supreme Court for use by guardians subject to reporting requirements. All guardians required to report must utilize these forms, which can be completed online or printed and filled out in type or neat handwriting. Guardianship Reporting Forms and instructions are provided at the state Judiciary website.  Visit, Guardianship Reporting Forms section for the most current forms and instructions.