In 1997, Evelyn Worley’s son Dwight assisted her in opening a $100,000 Transfer On Death (“TOD”) account where he worked. Dwight was designated as the sole beneficiary of the account. In 2005, Evelyn signed a power of attorney (“POA”) naming Dwight as her agent. In 2008, she signed a will naming Dwight as her executor.. read more →

Most guardianship actions are not contested. The “typical” guardianship action proceeds as follows. Upon receipt of a filed Order Fixing Guardianship Hearing, the plaintiff must: Immediately serve the initial pleadings on the court-appointed attorney by personal service, certified mail, return receipt requested, or, if acceptable to the court-appointed attorney, via facsimile, email or regular mail… read more →

A step-by-step guide to initiating a guardianship action in New Jersey follows. Documents To Be Filed: A guardianship action is initiated by submitting the following documents to the Surrogate for filing, with the required filing fee: Order Fixing Guardianship Hearing Verified Complaint Certification of Assets Certifications of Physician or Psychologist Case Information Statement Each of.. read more →

Court-appointed legal guardians make decisions for incapacitated people, referred to as “wards” in New Jersey, about personal and medical care, meals, transportation, and even where a ward lives. Guardians also control assets, manage budgets, pay debts, and make all financial and investment decisions for the wards they assist. The New Jersey Court Rules were revised effective.. read more →

On November 15, 2016, I presented at the Second Annual Caring for Caregivers Conference at the East Rutherford Community Center. The first section of my presentation focused on guardianship law in New Jersey, Public Benefit Basics, and the use of Special Needs Trusts by parents of adult disabled children. The powerpoint slides I prepared for.. read more →

President Obama has proclaimed November 2016 as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. The President has called upon the people of the United States “to learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and support the individuals living with this disease and their caregivers.” Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills.. read more →

Donald D. Vanarelli, Esq. (http://VanarelliLaw.com/) will present at the 2016 Elder Law College given by the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education on December 14, 2016 at the Crowne Plaza, located at 690 Route 46 East, Fairfield, New Jersey. Mr. Vanarelli will provide an overview of New Jersey law concerning guardianships and conservatorships. For.. read more →

A New York surrogate turned down a guardianship petition filed by the parents of a 34-year-old woman with Down syndrome, holding that courts should always seek to impose the least-restrictive terms of oversight that meet the needs of the person alleged to be incapacitated. Matter of Michelle M., 2016 NY Slip Op 51114(U) (Surrogate’s Court,.. read more →

Plaintiff filed an action seeking to declare his mother, D.W., an incapacitated person, and seeking to be appointed as her guardian. D.W. contested the guardianship action, claiming that she was not incapacitated and did not need a guardian. The court had appointed Matthew Van Natten, Esq. as D.W.’s counsel. Later, D.W. privately retained Alan John.. read more →

In 2014, Joseph Fabics filed a verified complaint seeking guardianship of his mother. The court appointed Ann Renaud, Esq. to represent Mrs. Fabics in connection with the action. The court-appointed attorney submitted a report to the court concluding that Joseph would be an unsuitable guardian, and recommending that Mrs. Fabics’s other son, Laszlo, be appointed.. read more →

  The Law Office of Donald D. Vanarelli provides Special Needs Trusts and Disability Planning Attorney Services throughout the State of New Jersey. See: http://vanarellilaw.com/special-needs-disability-planning/ Elder Law topics covered in this video include Guardianships, Conservatorships, Power of Attorney, Representative Payeeships (SSA and SSI), Joint Tenancies (including joint bank accounts), Advance Medical Directives (living wills), Do.. read more →

A trial court ruled that the plaintiff, who brought but ultimately withdrew the complaint in a contested guardianship case, must pay the legal fees of both the alleged incapacitated person and the court-appointed evaluator.  Matter of Madeline H., 31441-I-2015 This contested New York guardianship case was settled after extensive conferences pursuant to a stipulation of.. read more →

Happy New Year to clients, supporters, friends and readers. Last month, an article on this blog ranked the 25 most popular blog posts and website articles on the Vanarelli Law Office website in 2015. Since then, I decided to narrow my focus a little. In this post, I focused solely on blog posts, and created.. read more →

The Supreme Court of the State of North Dakota ruled that a lower court properly rejected a preference expressed by an incapacitated person for the appointment of a guardian when the incapacitated person could not provide the basis for the expressed preference. In the Matter of B.K.J, an Incapacitated Person, 2015 ND 191 (Docket No… read more →

Following a daughter’s application to be appointed as guardian for her father, her brother objected and sought to be appointed as the guardian. Middlesex County Judge Frank M. Ciuffani held a four-day trial, during which it was established that the siblings had a contentious relationship and that the daughter had been named alternate executor under.. read more →

The 17th Annual Elder Law Retreat, presented by the New Jersey State Bar Association Elder and Disability Law Section, was held on April 21 – 23, 2015 in Philadelphia, PA. At least two significant events occurred at the Retreat this year. First, I was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award, recognizing my “advocacy in elder and.. read more →

A New Jersey appellate court ruled that a person who is incapacitated may still be able to express a preference as to his or her choice of a guardian or place of residence, both of which are entitled to consideration by the court. Matter of the Guardianship of Walter J. Macak, 377 N.J. Super. 167.. read more →

In re S.H. was a contested guardianship litigation centering on who should be appointed guardian for S.H., a twenty-eight year old incapacitated woman. S.H. had lived with her mother, who “dutifully and selflessly cared for” S.H. her entire life. However, S.H.’s sister opposed their mother’s appointment , based upon the actions of the mother’s live-in boyfriend… read more →

This was a contested guardianship case involving S.H., called “Sarah” by the court, a 28 year old incapacitated woman. The principal issue in the case was whether Sarah’s guardian should be her mother, B.H. (Barbara), who filed the guardianship action, or J.H. (Joan), Sarah’s adult sister. Joining Joan in opposing Barbara’s appointment were: Barbara’s ex-husband,.. read more →

The Uniform Law Commission, a national law group, approved a new law on July 16, 2014 which provides access to digital assets by executors, guardians, agents under powers of attorney and other fiduciaries. The purpose of the Uniform Fiduciary Access To Digital Assets Act (UFADAA) is to provide fiduciaries with the authority necessary to access,.. read more →

When confronting the prospect of guardianship for a loved one, a threshold issue is who will apply to become the guardian. However, a natural concern of many prospective guardians involves the possibility that the ward might cause harm to another person or property: would the guardian be held liable for the resulting damages? The simple.. read more →

In general, an incapacitated person is to be represented in any litigation by a guardian, or “if no such guardian has been appointed or a conflict of interest exists between a guardian and ward or for other good cause, by a guardian ad litem appointed by the Court.” R. 4:26-2(a); Village Apartments v. Novack, 383.. read more →

Decision-making capacity involves four (4) key abilities: the ability to understand information relevant to a decision, to retain the information relevant to the decision, to use the information relevant to the decision as part of the decision-making process and to communicate the decision once it is made. But since decision-making capacity involves mental abilities, how.. read more →

Even after a guardian is appointed for an incapacitated person, our courts will seek to preserve the incapacitated person’s right to self-determination, to the extent possible. This challenging task was addressed by the New Jersey Supreme Court in M.R., 135 N.J. 155 (1994): Unless they endanger themselves or others, competent people ordinarily can choose what.. read more →

All New Jersey guardians are appointed by the Superior Court of New Jersey. A “guardian” is a person appointed by a court to make decisions regarding the person or property of an incapacitated adult. A person is “incapacitated” under the law if he or she “is impaired by reason of mental illness or mental deficiency.. read more →