Protective arrangements may be necessary for individuals impaired due to drug addiction

When one thinks about “guardianship,” one usually thinks about cases involving dementia or severe developmental/intellectual disabilities, or perhaps the residuals of traumatic brain injury. The definition of “incapacitated” is broader than that. In the New Jersey probate code, “incapacitated individual” is defined to include  someone “who is impaired by reason of physical illness or disability, chronic use of drugs, chronic alcoholism, or other cause (except minority) to the extent that the individual lacks sufficient capacity to govern himself and manage his affairs.”  What this means is that there may be times that a concerned family member will consider filing for general or limited guardianship to protect the assets and well-being of a person who is a habitual drug abuser. There are many procedural due process protections built into the process of obtaining guardianship, but in life threatening situations there could be the opportunity for emergency limited intervention through the court system. At the point that the individual obtains treatment and regains his/her sobriety and capacity, s/he can return to court to scale back the limitations imposed by the guardianship. meanwhile, s/he can be protected against the hazards caused by the behavior and illness.

A court can find that an individual “lacks the capacity to perform some, but not all, of the tasks necessary to care for himself,” and can appoint a limited guardian with specific authority. The individual may not be functionally capable to arrange for insurance, manage assets, maintain a safe home, or consent to treatment. The individual’s funds may be dissipated due to severe impairment of decision-making and susceptibility to influence by other people with similar problems. The individual may be living in a truly hazardous situation as a result of the addiction. The protective arrangement statute , the guardianship statute and the special medical guardianship statute provide the framework to  enable a concerned person to come to the rescue in these situation.

If you are wrestling with how to provide the protection that you feel is needed for your adult child with drug addiction problems, call us at ….. 732-382-6070

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