ASSEMBLY, No. 4496

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

221st LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED JUNE 6, 2024

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman  SHANIQUE SPEIGHT

District 29 (Essex and Hudson)

Assemblyman  BENJIE E. WIMBERLY

District 35 (Bergen and Passaic)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Assemblyman Atkins and Assemblywoman Bagolie

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Revises visitation and reporting rules for professional guardians.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning professional guardians and amending N.J.S.3B:12-57 and N.J.S.3B:12-42.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.  N.J.S.3B:12-57 is amended to read as follows:

     3B:12-57.  Powers and duties of a guardian of the person of a ward.

     a.     (Deleted by amendment, P.L.2005, c.304.)

     b.    (Deleted by amendment, P.L.2005, c.304.)

     c.     (Deleted by amendment, P.L.2005, c.304.)

     d.    (Deleted by amendment, P.L.2005, c.304.)

     e.     (Deleted by amendment, P.L.2005, c.304.)

     f.     In accordance with Section 12 of P.L.2005, c.304 (C.3B:12-24.1), a guardian of the person of a ward shall exercise authority over matters relating to the rights and best interest of the ward's personal needs, only to the extent adjudicated by a court of competent jurisdiction.  In taking or forbearing from any action affecting the personal needs of a ward, a guardian shall give due regard to the preferences of the ward, if known to the guardian or otherwise ascertainable upon reasonable inquiry.  To the extent that it is consistent with the terms of any order by a court of competent jurisdiction, the guardian shall:

     (1)   take custody of the ward and establish the ward's place of abode in or outside of this State;

     (2)   personally visit the ward or if a public agency which is authorized to act pursuant to P.L.1965, c.59 (C.30:4-165.1 et seq.) and P.L.1970, c.289 (C.30:4-165.7 et seq.) or the Office of the Public Guardian pursuant to P.L. 1985, c.298 (C.52:27G-20 et seq.) or their  representatives which may include a private or public agency, visits the ward not less than once every three months, or as deemed appropriate by the court, and otherwise maintain sufficient contact with the ward to know [his]the ward’s capacities, limitations, needs, opportunities, and physical and mental health; except that, if a registered professional guardian, visits the ward not less than once every three weeks, or as deemed appropriate by the court, and otherwise maintain sufficient contact with the ward to know the ward’s capacities, limitations, needs, opportunities and physical and mental health;

     (3)   provide for the care, comfort and maintenance and, whenever appropriate, the education and training of the ward;

     (4)   subject to the provisions of subsection c. of N.J.S.3B:12-56, give or withhold any consents or approvals that may be necessary to enable the ward to receive medical or other professional care, counsel, treatment or service;

     (5)   take reasonable care of the ward's clothing, furniture, vehicles and other personal effects and, where appropriate, sell or dispose of such effects to meet the current needs of the ward;

     (6)   institute an action for the appointment of a guardian of the property of the ward, if necessary for the protection of the property;

     (7)   develop a plan of supportive services for the needs of the ward and a plan to obtain the supportive services;

     (8)   if necessary, institute an action against a person having a duty to support the ward or to pay any sum for the ward's welfare in order to compel the performance of the duties;

     (9)   receive money, payable from any source for the current support of the ward, and tangible personal property deliverable to the ward.  Any sums so received shall be applied to the ward's current needs for support, health care, education and training in the exercise of the guardian's reasonable discretion, with or without court order, with or without regard to the duty or ability of any person to support or provide for the ward and with or without regard to any other funds, income or property that may be available for that purpose, unless an application is made to the court to establish a supplemental needs trust or other trust arrangement.  However, the guardian may not use funds from the ward's estate for room and board, which the guardian, the guardian's spouse or domestic partner as defined in section 3 of P.L.2003, c. 246 (C.26:8A-3), parent or child have furnished the ward, unless agreed to by a guardian of the ward's estate pursuant to N.J.S.3B:12-41, or unless a charge for the service is approved by order of the court made upon notice to at least one of the heirs of the ward, if possible.  The guardian shall exercise care to conserve any excess funds for the ward's needs; [and]

     (10) If necessary, institute an action that could be maintained by the ward including but not limited to, actions alleging fraud, abuse, undue influence and exploitation; and

     (11)  Report at time intervals as ordered by the court, the condition of the ward and the condition of the ward’s estate which has been subject to the guardian’s possession or control.

     g.    In the exercise of the foregoing powers, the guardian shall encourage the ward to participate with the guardian in the decision-making process to the maximum extent of the ward's ability in order to encourage the ward to act on [his]the ward’s own behalf whenever [he]the ward is able to do so, and to develop or regain higher capacity to make decisions in those areas in which [he]the ward is in need of guardianship services, to the maximum extent possible.

(cf: P.L.2005, c.304, s.39)

 

     2.    N.J.S.3B:12-42 is amended to read as follows:

     3B:12-42.  Reporting condition of ward's person and property to court.

     A guardian shall report at time intervals as ordered by the court, unless otherwise waived by the court, the condition of the ward and the condition of the ward's estate which has been subject to the guardian's possession or control as ordered by the court.

     a.     A report by the guardian of the person shall state or contain:

     (1)   the current mental, physical and social condition of the ward;

     (2)   the living arrangements for all addresses of the ward during the reporting period;

     (3)   the medical, educational, vocational and other services provided to the ward and the guardian's opinions as to the adequacy of the ward's care;

     (4)   a summary of the guardian's visits with the ward and activities on the ward's behalf and the extent to which the ward has participated in decision-making;

     (5)   if the ward is institutionalized, whether or not the guardian considers the current plan for care, treatment or habilitation to be in the ward's best interest;

     (6)   plans for future care; and

     (7)   a recommendation as to the need for continued guardianship and any recommended changes in the scope of the guardianship.

     b.    The court may appoint an individual to review a report, interview the ward or guardian and make any other investigation the court directs.

     c.     Agencies authorized to act pursuant to P.L.1985, c. 298 (C.52:27G-20 et seq.), P.L.1985, c. 145 (C.30:6D-23 et seq.), P.L.1965, c. 59 (C.30:4-165.1 et seq.) and P.L.1970, c. 289 (C.30:4-165.7 et seq.) and public officials appointed as limited guardians of the person for medical purposes for individuals in psychiatric facilities listed in R.S.30:1-7 shall be exempt from this section.

     d.  A family member may request, upon a motion to the Court, a report from a registered professional guardian, prepared at time intervals as ordered by the court, concerning the condition of the ward and the condition of the ward's estate which has been subject to the guardian's possession or control.

(cf: P.L. 2005, c.304, s.29)

 

     3.    This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill revises the duty of professional guardians to meet with and report on the status of an incapacitated ward.  At present, persons appointed guardian of the person of a ward, including persons appointed to serve as registered professional guardians, have an obligation to visit the ward and to maintain sufficient contact with the ward to know the ward’s capacities, limitations, needs, opportunities and physical and mental health.  N.J.S.A.3B:12-57 provides general rules for guardians, which include that the guardian personally visit the ward not less than once every three months, or as deemed appropriate by the court, and otherwise maintain sufficient contact with the ward to know the ward’s capacities, limitations, needs, opportunities and physical and mental health.  This bill would require a registered professional guardian, who is compensated for guardianship services, to personally meet with the ward not less than once every three weeks, or as deemed appropriate by the court. 

     The bill further provides that a family member of the ward may, upon motion to the Court, request a report be prepared by a registered professional guardian concerning the condition of the ward and the condition of the ward's estate which has been subject to the guardian's possession or control as ordered by the court.