Glossary of Terms In This Guardianship Site
Written by Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a Freehold, New Jersey Guardianship Attorney
Vocabulary words have meaning both in life and in the law. Below I have listed the most frequent terms used in this website and what each word means. The terms are listed in alphabetical order. I am certain this glossary will be of assistance to you in your reading.
If we at Hanlon Niemann & Wright can be of assistance to you now or in the future, please do not hesitate to contact me (855) 376-5291 or e-mail me at email@example.com.
- Annual Report – Conservator: Every year until the conservatorship is terminated, the conservator most likely will be required to file a Conservator’s Annual Report that describes what has happened to the protected person and their income and assets in the past 12 months. Check Conservatorship Judgement for details and dates of submission.
- Annual Report – Guardian: Every year until the guardianship is terminated, the guardian must file an Annual report that describes what has happened to the ward and their income and assets in the past 12 months. There are often different annual report forms for an adult or a minor guardianship report.
- Bond: A cash payment or pledge of property that guarantees that a conservator or guardian will fulfill his or her duties.
- Complaint For Guardianship: The document you file that asks the court to appoint a guardian in a guardianship case or conservator in a conservatorship case.
- Conservator: A person or institution who the court appoints to handle the financial affairs for another person. The conservator collects and deposits all income, pays all debts and bills, secures all assets, and handles taxes and insurance.
- Conservatorship: A legal arrangement where the court appoints a person or institution to handle the financial affairs for another person because that person cannot handle these matters.
- Decisional Capacity: The ability to receive and evaluate information or make or communicate decisions.
- Delegation of Powers Through A Power Of Attorney: A parent can give someone powers regarding a child’s care, custody or property for a limited period of time. You can specify what powers the person has regarding the child. You cannot delegate the power to consent to the child’s marriage or to the child being adopted. The parent can revoke the delegation of powers at any time. The parent delegating the power cannot affect the rights of the non-signing parent and does not create a guardianship. You do not go to court for a power of attorney.
- Extraordinary Medical Treatment: The types of medical treatments which Court may consider ‘extraordinary’ requiring a substituted judgement determination includes administering of antipsychotic medication, sterilization, abortion, electroconvulsive therapy, psychosurgery and removal of artificial maintenance of nutrition or hydration.
- Final Conservatorship Report: When the conservatorship ends, the conservator must file the Final Conservatorship Report.
- Final Guardianship Report: When the Guardianship ends, the guardian must file the Final Guardianship Report.
- Full Guardian: A full guardian is appointed to have total decision-making responsibilities for medical, housing, services, legal, and financial areas for another person called the ward.
- Guardian: A person who the court appoints to protect the rights and mange the affairs of an incapacitated person or a minor. Children usually only have guardians when neither of their parents are willing or able to care for them. There are guardians with different powers: Full Guardian, Partial or Limited Guardian, Temporary Guardian.
- Guardian Ad Litem (GAL): A person appointed by the court to protect the rights of the respondent during the guardianship proceedings. The respondent can ask the court to appoint a “guardian ad litem” if the respondent cannot determine his/her own best interests without assistance (because his/her ability to understand the guardianship proceedings or make decisions about them is impaired). If appointed, the Guardian Ad Litem will help the respondent determine what is best for respondent in his/her legal case. If respondent is entirely incapable of making that determination, the guardian ad litem will make it. The Office of Public Guardianship will provide this service at state expense if the court determines that respondent cannot afford it or has no eligible person willing to serve.
- Guardian by Testamentary Appointment: Guardian who is appointed by a Will. An example would be when a parent/guardian of a developmentally disabled child indicates in his or her Will who would be the child’s successor guardian. The successor guardian needs to request a Probate Court hearing to get signed Orders.
- Guardianship: A legal arrangement where the court appoints a person or institution as a guardian to make decisions for an incapacitated person, and/or a child – decisions about housing, medical care, legal issues, financial issues and services. The individual being cared for in the guardianship is called the “Ward”.
- Guardianship Report and Inventory of the Estate: This is a document required to be filed by the guardian with the Surrogate Court within 90 days. This report gives the court a complete picture of the ward’s current finances, income, resources, etc. and what the guardian is going to do to implement the Guardianship Plan.
- Guardianship Order: This is the court’s order that names the guardian, includes specific findings that supports each grant of authority to the guardian. The order adopts a guardianship plan that states the guardian’s authority to make decisions for the ward including medical care, mental health treatment, housing, finances, education or vocational training.
- Incapacitated Person: A person whose ability to receive an evaluate information or to communicate decisions is impaired so that the person cannot provide for their physical health or safety without court-ordered help. Not providing for someone’s own physical health or safety, includes health care, food, shelter, clothing, personal hygiene, and protection. Before appointing a guardian for a ward, the court must find that the ward is an “incapacitated person.”
- Least Restrictive Alternative: A mechanism, course of action, or environment that allows the respondent to live, learn, and work in a setting that places as few limits as possible on the respondents rights and personal freedoms as appropriate to meet their needs.
- Letters of Conservatorship: Document from the court that sets forth the conservator’s powers and specific limitations. The conservator presents the Letters when needed to show what their powers are, such as when dealing with financial issues.
- Letters of Guardianship: Document from the court that states the guardian’s powers and whether there are any specific limitations. The guardian presents the Letters when needed to show what their powers are, such as when dealing with financial issues, medical providers, or any third party.
- Limited Conservator: The court can appoint someone as conservator who has only certain powers or for a limited number of transactions.
- Office of Public Guardian for Elderly Adults: The Office of Public Guardian provides legal advocacy and guardianship and conservatorship services to vulnerable N.J. residents. OPA provides public guardianship for incapacitated adults, advocacy for victims of elder fraud, and attorney services for respondents in adult guardianship proceedings. OPA is appointed as guardian or conservator for an individual only if a family member, friend, or private entity is not able to do so. OPA employs staff public guardians throughout several locations in the state. Public guardians in these areas assist wards in living in communities around the state.
- Partial or Limited Guardian: A person who the court appoints as guardian whose rights, powers, and duties are less than full guardianship and are specified by court order. In these situations, the person under the partial guardianship is able to perform some, but not all of the functions necessary to care for himself/herself and alternatives to guardianship cannot provide for the person’s needs.
- Personal Representative: The person appointed by the court to handle the entire probate process after someone dies, also called an executor.
- Plaintiff or Petitioner: The Plaintiff/Petitioner is the person who signs the document called a Complaint for Guardianship or conservatorship that asks the court to appoint a guardian or conservator.
- Power of Attorney: A document in which you choose to give another person (your agent) the right to make specific decisions for you. You can grant your agent broad powers to do almost anything you could do for yourself (general power of attorney) or you can choose the powers you want to give an agent (specific power of attorney). You can choose to appoint an agent immediately or you can make the appointment effective only if you become disabled. You can also state that the appointment will be revoked upon your incapacity. There is no court oversight over the power of attorney.
- Private Professional Guardian or Conservator: Persons (including companies and other organizations) who engage in the business of providing guardian or conservator services. They charge fees for their services, usually on an hourly basis.
- Protected Person: A person for whom the court has appointed a conservator because the person cannot manage their money or property due to disability, advanced age or illness.
- Public Guardian: A public guardian is a state employee who the court can appoint as guardian or conservator if no private person or agency is able or available to be the guardian or conservator. The Office of Public Guardian for the Elderly provides public guardian services and charges on a sliding scale basis.
- Representative Payee: A representative payee is an individual or organization that receives Social Security and/or SSI payments for someone who cannot manage his/her money. Payees should use the funds for the current and foreseeable needs of the beneficiary and save any remaining funds for the beneficiary’s future use.
- Respondent: In a guardianship case, is the person who is alleged to be incapacitated and in need of a guardian is sometimes called the “respondent”. (Note: After a guardian is appointed, the “respondent” is called a “ward”.) In a conservatorship case, the respondent is the person who is alleged to need a conservator to help manage money and property. (Note: After a conservator is appointed, the “respondent” is sometimes called a “protected person”.)
- Substituted Judgment: A substituted judgment standard in applied by the court when a guardian seeks the court’s permission for extraordinary treatment. ‘Substitute Judgment’ means the Court substitutes itself for the incapacitated person and attempts to determine that person’s actual interests and preferences, and how he or she would make the decision regarding antipsychotic medication if competent. The Court must take into account all of the factors and concerns that likely make up the particular person’s decision-making, including the following: the person’s expressed preferences regarding treatment, the person’s religious convictions, the impact of the decision on the person’s family, the probability of adverse side effects, and the prognosis for the person with and without treatment.
- Surety Bond: A bond endorsed by the guardian as well as a corporate or personal surety. The guarantor(s) are liable to the respondent’s estate for any financial wrongdoing by the guardian.
- Temporary Conservator: Conservator whom the court appoints on a temporary basis because the respondent is not capable of protecting his or her funds or property against being wasted or used up, or getting funds that are needed for the immediate support, case, and welfare of the respondent or his/her decedents. If the court appoints a temporary conservator during the conservatorship case, the temporary conservatorship expires when the court appoints a full or partial conservator, or when the petition for a conservator is dismissed.
- Temporary Guardian: A guardian the court appoints on a temporary basis in an emergency situation for an immediate or time-limited period. An example would be an emergency appointment for an immediate life threatening medical decision or a six-month period to assist with a specific decision.
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