SUPREME COURT OF NEW JERSEY
In response to the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the New Jersey Judiciary is implementing all available measures to apply social distancing in court operations, consistent with the recommendations of the New Jersey Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control, including by transitioning on an emergent and temporary basis to conducting most if not all matters via video or telephone.
Notwithstanding the need to move to an entirely remote operation, the
Judiciary must continue to meet our responsibilities to the people and the State of New Jersey, including those vulnerable persons alleged to be incapacitated and in need of the appointment of a guardian of the person and/or estate.
Accordingly, pursuant to N.J. Const., Art. VI, sec. 2, par. 3, it is ORDERED that effective immediately and until further order, Rule 4:86 of the Rules Governing the Courts of the State ofNew Jersey is relaxed and supplemented based on current social distancing requirements, as follows:
1. To permit affidavits in support of guardianship applications to be submitted by physicians or psychologists who have examined the alleged incapacitated person by video or by phone (Rule 4:86-
2. To permit affidavits in support of guardianship applications to be submitted by persons who otherwise would be disqualified because of their affiliation with an institution having care or custody of the alleged incapacitated person (Rule 4:86-3);
3. To permit service of the verified complaint and notice to the alleged incapacitated person to be completed by alternative means, including certified mail or reading aloud the contents of the complaint (Rule i
4. To permit court-appointed counsel and any guardian ad litem to interview the alleged incapacitated person by video or by phone (Rule and (d));
5. To provide that the alleged incapacitated person must be afforded the opportunity to participate in the guardianship hearing by video or by phone (Rule 4:86-5(a) and (c));
6. To provide that judgments of incapacity may authorize the guardian to act immediately if qualification cannot be timely completed, and that the requirement of posting a surety bond may be postponed (but not waived) so long as any immediate authority over the guardianship estate is narrowly tailored to avoid immediate and irreparable harm to
the incapacitated person or their property (Rule 4:86-6(d)(1) and (2)); and
7. To extend as necessary the timeframe for guardian qualification during the COVID-19 public health emergency (Rule 4:86-6(e)(1)).
For the Court,
Chief JusticeDated: April 8, 2020
SUMMARY OF RULE CHANGES
On April 9, 2020 the NJ Supreme court revised Rule 4:86 . The Order relaxes the requirement of filing for Guardianship as follows;
1.Permits physician examination to take place by video or phone
2. Permits interviews to take place by video or phone
3. Permits alleged incapacitated to appear by video or phone
4. Allows the Judge to authorize the Guardian to act immediately
5. To postpone the requirement of obtaining a bond
For a more in depth review of these changes please visit our blog