If you have appointed somebody to be the guardian of your children in the event you and your spouse die, you recognize that life can throw you a lot of curveballs and that you should be prepared for the worst. But what if your guardian candidate dies before you do or is otherwise unable to take on the task of guardianship? To address these eventualities, you should consider appointing someone to be a successor guardian in New Jersey in addition to your primary guardian.
A successor guardian is someone you choose to be the guardian of your children in the event that your primary guardian candidate is not available for the job. There are many reasons why a guardian candidate, even if that person was willing to be named as a guardian at first, will not be available to care for your children. In addition to perhaps dying before you or both of the parents of your children, a guardian may become disabled, change his or her mind, or become financially unable to care for another person.
New Jersey’s Bureau Of Guardianship Services states that residents of the Garden State can name successor guardians in their wills. However, this does not mean that appointment of a successor guardian shall be automatically granted. A request for the successor guardian to be appointed must still be petitioned to the courts. Ultimately, the court will have to grant the request for your successor guardian to be appointed.
It is still worth it to name your own successor guardian, as a court would have to appoint a successor in any case if your primary guardian choice ends up passing away. In that case, the Bureau of Guardianship Services, after it is determined a guardian is still needed, would have to find a successor guardian, typically by going to the next of kin of the ward that is to be cared for. However, this process could end up appointing a guardian that you would not have picked in the first place.
Because the needs of New Jersey families differ so widely, do not consider this article as legal advice. It is only intended to provide educational benefit to the reader on guardianship topics.