Whenever an individual has been declared by Court action (R.4:86, et seq.., R.4:83-4 to be an incapacitated person (an individual who is unable to handle his/her personal and/or financial affairs) the Court appointed guardian must qualify before the Surrogate’s Court to become guardian of the Ward (the legal designation of the person who has been declared incapacitated).

            The individual qualifying as guardian must make application to the Surrogate’s Court, by presenting to the Surrogate a Judgment signed by a Superior Court judge indicating that he/she has been appointed guardian.  The Surrogate’s Court will prepare for signature an Application for Guardianship (Incapacitated Person), Authorization to Accept Service of Process and Guardianship Acceptance.  Usually a bond is required of the guardian. The guardian will qualify upon signing these forms and posting any required bond and receive Letters of Guardianship.  This will entitle the guardian to make appropriate decisions in providing for the Ward living arrangements, medical care, meals, transportation, socialization and recreation.  The guardian will take the responsibility of identifying, collecting and taking control of the Ward’s property (real and personal), to establish a budget, to pay the Ward’s debts, according to ability and priority, to prudently invest the Ward’s property when appropriate, and to report as directed to the Court about the status of the Ward’s estate.  In most cases the Court will require the Guardian to file an Annual Report and Informal Accounting each year on the anniversary date of the Judgment appointing the Guardian.  A sample form of this Annual Report and Informal Accounting is available on this website. The extent of the guardian’s involvement will be determined by the level of the Ward’s mental and physical disability.  At the time of the guardianship hearing it will be determined by the Court the specific limitations of the guardianship.

            Real estate may not be sold, disclaimers may not be filed and gifts cannot be made by the guardian without further approval of the Superior Court.