Should I Try to Get Guardianship Over a Loved One with Dementia in The State of New Jersey?

If your loved one is suffering from dementia, it will often be considered necessary to obtain Legal Guardianship over them so that you may take the necessary measures to ensure that they receive the care that they require.

Legal Guardianship may also be referred to as “Conservatorship”. Essentially, this involves becoming a person that has the legal authorization to ensure that a person that is incapacitated is healthy, safe, their needs are met, and that their rights are protected.

As a Legal Guardian, you will be required to make decisions on behalf of your loved one and provide informed consent in certain types of matters. In this guide, you will whether or not you should try to obtain this designation in the State of New Jersey.

Isn’t Power of Attorney Enough?

If your loved one has made a Durable Power of Attorney, you will not need to obtain Legal Guardianship. This type of Power of Attorney immediately goes into effect and providers the legal leverage for a loved one appointed to make decisions and manage affairs even if they become incompetent. This type of Power of Attorney only ends once the principle has passed away.

A General Power of Attorney and a Limited Power of Attorney will be not valid if your loved one experiences incapacitation. There is a Springing Power of Attorney that actually only becomes effective upon incapacitation, but establishing the “springing event” where this happened is often quite burdensome and that is why most recommend starting off with a Durable Power of Attorney.

This DPOA must be completed when your loved one is competent and two witnesses must sign at the time it is drawn up.

Choosing A Guardianship Type

If you are able to establish that no Durable Power of Attorney exists, you must then proceed to obtaining Guardianship over your loved one. In the State of New Jersey, you must choose from one of the following:

  1. Limited Guardianship – This is appropriate if your loved one is capable of making some – but not all decisions – regarding residential matters, medical matters, legal matters, educational matters, vocational matters, and financial matters. In most cases, you will want to bypass this type of Guardianship if your loved one has dementia.
  2. General Guardianship – This is also referred to as “Plenary Guardianship”. This is the type that you would choose when your loved one is not capable of expressing any decisions or making any decisions. In terms of dementia, this is the most appropriate form of Guardianship because your loved one will – eventually – likely reach the point where they are unable to express and/or make their own decisions.


If your loved one has any form of dementia and does not have a Durable Power of Attorney in place, it will be required that you obtain Legal Guardianship over that individual. This may prove to be a complex and highly stressful situation. You will require an attorney to represent you and an attorney to represent your loved one.

Family courts prefer for loved ones to take on the role of the Guardian. By taking this step, you will be able to ensure that the best interests of your loved one are kept in mind when making decisions for them. For more information on the needs of dementia patients, obtaining Guardianship, and memory care for dementia patients, you may contact us here at Beacon Senior Advisors by calling: 973-384-1177



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