In New Jersey, all 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 to the extent that [he/she] lacks sufficient capacity to govern [him/her]self and manage [his/her personal and financial] affairs.” A “ward” is an individual for whom a guardian is appointed or an individual under the protection of the court.

Once appointed, a guardian must act in the best interests of the ward. A guardian’s responsibilities may be divided into two groups of duties: responsibilities relating to care of a ward’s person, and those relating to care of a ward’s property.

A guardian of the property has the responsibility to manage and use the ward’s property solely for the benefit of the ward. To fulfill this duty, a guardian must perform the following tasks: (1) identify, collect and take control of the ward’s property; (2) ensure that all property is adequately protected against loss, especially if the ward has many investments; (3) establish a budget for the ward; (4) pay the ward’s debts as they become due, and according to priority within the ward’s financial ability to pay; (5) invest the property as permitted by law and in a manner suitable to the ward’s circumstances. Financial advisers, as well as other professionals, may be hired, if appropriate; and (6) periodically furnish a written report, called an accounting, to the court about the assets, receipts and disbursements of the ward’s estate.

A new guide was recently published by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or the CFPB, discussing the responsibilities of those appointed by a court to be guardians of a ward’s property. This guide will help readers understand what you can and cannot do in the role of property guardian.

The guardianship guide is annexed below, and is free to download:

Download (PDF, 1.75MB)

For additional information concerning guardianships and fiduciary services, visit:

NJ Guardianship and Fiduciary Services