May 13, 2021
Changes to Guardianship Court Rules as of May 15, 2021
By Meredith L. Grocott, Esq.
For guardianship applications filed on or after May 15, 2021, the New Jersey Supreme Court has instituted a background screening policy for many proposed guardians. New Jersey Court Rule 4:86-2 was amended to require “[a]n affidavit or certification setting forth the criminal and civil judgment history of each proposed guardian…” The form of certification may be found on the judiciary website (njcourts.gov). The categories of proposed guardians that are presumptively exempt from the screening process are as follows:
Parents of an alleged incapacitated individual;
Those married to an alleged incapacitated individual (or in a domestic partnership or civil union);
Agencies, such as the Office of the Public Guardian for the Elderly;
Public officials of psychiatric facilities appointed for limited medical purposes;
Financial institutions; and
Attorneys in good standing in the State of New Jersey.
The probate court has the authority to require that any proposed guardian, including presumptively exempt proposed guardians, undergo a screening process.
In addition to the self-disclosure in the certification, the screening process may include fingerprinting or a criminal history background check as well as searching various court systems. The probate judge or designee will review the information to determine if there is any relevant adverse or negative history. The screening policy sets forth nine different factors for the judge to consider in determining whether an infraction is relevant in the guardianship setting. If there is such history that may preclude the proposed guardian from serving, that individual will be provided with notice and an opportunity to be heard by the probate judge.
Before or at the time of the entry of the guardianship judgment, the appointed guardian must acknowledge receipt of the screening policy and the ongoing duty to comply with same.
If you need assistance with a guardianship matter, please contact Meredith L. Grocott or any of the attorneys in the Elder and Special Needs Law practice group.
DISCLAIMER: This Alert is designed to keep you aware of recent developments in the law. It is not intended to be legal advice, which can only be given after the attorney understands the facts of a particular matter and the goals of the client.