Standby Guardianship in NJ:  An Interesting Concept

By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. a Freehold Township, Monmouth County NJ Guardianship Attorney

GuardianshipI was reading an article about guardianship that I thought was worth summarizing for my readers.  The article was about a Standby Guardian.  A Standby Guardianship is an individual appointed by a parent for the benefit of his/her child in the event the parent dies, or becomes incapacitated or is unable to care for the child while alive. Think of a Standby Guardian as a person who is “on call,” ready to take over or help with the care of a child or disabled adult. A Standby Guardian serves on a temporary basis until a permanent Guardian is appointed by the court.

A Standby Guardian is appointed in a written document signed and notarized by a parent.  It includes the name of the parent, the identity of the child, and the person who will serve as the Guardian.

New Jersey law specifically permits the Designation of the Standby Guardian by the parent.  The law provides that biological parents have first rights to the custody of their children.  In New Jersey today many households are single parent households.  While most marital or divorce agreements almost always address the custody of minor children, death will always give parental rights of custody to the surviving biological parent.  But if the surviving parent does not want custody; the Standby Guardianship will likely be upheld.

The Standby Guardian should consent in writing to the position when the document is first created. Usually, their signature in the designating document is legally sufficient enough to constitute acceptance.

The role of the Standby Guardian differs from a Guardianship in that it may include concurrent decision making with a disabled parent, as opposed to having sole responsibility.

In some instances, a parent who becomes disabled is still able to remain active in a child’s life, needing only limited remedial help with money management, or other guidance and advice. The Standby role begins when an event happens, then proceeds as described in the designating document or court petition.

How a Standby Guardian Work in New Jersey?
A Standby Guardian is appointed by the parent for the benefit of their child in the event the parent dies, or becomes incapacitated and is unable to care for the child.  Think of a Standby Guardian as a person who is “on call”ready to take over or help with the care and upbringing of the child.  A Standby Guardian can be designated on a temporary basis until a permanent Guardian is appointed by the court.

How Does One Designate a Standby Guardian?
The parent or legal guardian may choose a Standby Guardian by means of a written designation. The document will include the name of the parent or legal guardian, the identity of the child, and who the named Standby Guardian is.

A Standby Guardian may also be named in a Will, in a Power of Attorney, within a Guardianship Application to the court, or created on its own. New Jersey law specifically permits a Designation of the Standby Guardian by the parent.

Agreement of Non-Custodial Parent
In New Jersey today many households are single parent households.  Even in single parent households, reasonable efforts must be made to notify the non-custodial biological parent when selecting a Standby Guardian.  A marital or divorce agreement almost always addresses custody.  The divorce  agreement is generally to the place to look to whether or not the consent of the non- custodial parent is required and how much weight should be given to the non- custodial parent’s position in deciding the matter. At the time of a court hearing, the non-custodial parent will also have an opportunity to be heard on the issue of a Standby Guardianship.

Contact me personally today to discuss your New Jersey Guardian matter.  I am easy to talk to, very approachable and can offer you practical, legal ways to handle your concerns.  You can reach me toll free at (855) 376-5291 or e-mail me at fniemann@hnlawfirm.com.

 

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