What is a Guardian? What is an Incapacitated Person

A guardian is a person who, by court appointment, has the authority to make decisions for an incapacitated person.   An incapacitated person is an adult impaired by mental illness or deficiency, physical illness or disability, chronic use of drugs, chronic alcoholism, developmental disability or other cause, to the extent that he cannot govern himself and manage his affairs. Court appointed legal guardians make decisions for incapacitated people about personal and medical care, meals, transportation, and even where a person lives. Guardians control assets, manage budgets, pay debts, and make all financial and investment decisions for the people they assist. A guardian is a fiduciary position of trust with responsibilities to the incapacitated person and the court.

What do I Need to File in Order to Initiate Guardianship of an Alleged Incapacitated Adult?

The Essex County Surrogate's Court does not provide pro se forms or examples of pleadings for guardianships of mentally incapacitated persons.  While independent legal consultation and/or representation is highly recommended, guidance can be found at the New Jersey Judiciary's website under the rules governing the courts of the State of New Jersey, specifically Rule 4:86.  Action for Guardianship of a Mentally Incapacitated Person or for the Appointment of a Conservator.

You must prepare and submit the original and at least one (1) copy of the following pleadings:

·          Verified Complaint,
·          Order to Show Cause,
·          Certifications from two (2) medical doctors who have examined the alleged incapacitated person within the 30 days immediately preceding the date you file your pleadings in Surrogate's Court, and
·          Any supporting exhibit documents or proofs that you want considered in support of your pleadings.
You must also submit:
·          A check made payable to the "Surrogate of Essex County" for the $200.00 filing fee and
·          A prepaid return envelope for the return of the copies once the Order to Show Cause has been conformed and the documents stamped "filed."

Once Appointed, Where Can I Get the Guardianship Reporting Forms?

Generally, an individual appointed as a guardian of the person, estate, or person and estate of an incapacitated person must periodically report to the court regarding the guardianship. Forms have been developed and approved by the Supreme Court for use by guardians subject to reporting requirements. All guardians required to report must utilize these forms, which can be completed online or printed and filled out in type or neat handwriting. Guardianship Reporting Forms and instructions are provided at the state Judiciary website.  Visit, Guardianship Reporting Forms section for the most current forms and instructions.