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New Jersey Standby Guardianship Law

Standby Guardianship may be defined as a legal process by which an individual is named to assume specified health care or financial authority for an elderly person who becomes mentally incapacitated.  A parent or legal guardian can apply to the court for appointing a standby guardian.  The petition for judicially appointing a standby guardian of a minor child should include the reason for appointment such as any triggering event or events that may cause the authority of the appointed standby guardian to become effective.  The petition should also contain the fact that there is a significant risk to the life of the parent or legal custodian or s/he may become incapacitated, or debilitated as a result of a progressive chronic condition or a fatal illness.  The name, address, and qualifications of the proposed standby guardian should also be stated in the petition.

A standby guardian may be chosen by the parent or legal custodian by means of a written designation that names the standby guardian in the event of the designator’s death, incapacity, or debilitation.  The designator, the minor child, the standby guardian, and the triggering factor should be easily identifiable from the written designation.  The statute provides an optional designation form.  Children who are age 14 or older must be notified and the court will consider their preference.

A standby guardian’s authority shall be activated upon the occurrence of a triggering event, and such standby guardian shall immediately assume his or her duties.  If the triggering event is the incapacity or debilitation of the parent or legal custodian, the attending physician shall provide a copy of his determination to the appointed standby guardian.  The standby guardian should file a petition with the court before completing 60 days, for confirmation of guardianship.  The confirmation petition should include a determination of incapacity or debilitation or a death certificate, as appropriate.  Within 30 days of filing the petition, a notice of hearing must be served to any parent who has parental rights.  In case the non- custodial parent cannot be found, the court may proceed.  No notice is required to a parent who is deceased or whose rights have been previously terminated.

A standby guardian may decline appointment at any time before the assumption of his duties by filing a written statement with the court, and notifying the petitioner and the minor child if the latter is age 14 or older.  Standby guardianship may be revoked by a parent or guardian by filing a written revocation with the court and notifying the appointed standby guardian about the revocation.  An unwritten revocation may be considered by the court if the revocation can be proved by clear and convincing evidence submitted to the court.


Inside New Jersey Standby Guardianship Law