Is an Ex-Felon Criminal Automatically Disqualified from Being a Person’s Guardian or Power of Attorney?

By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a Freehold, NJ Guardianship Attorney

Guardians and powers of attorney are given immense amounts of decision-making authority over their wards.  When appointing somebody, courts and family members want to ensure that the right person is being appointed.  We recently met with a client who asked if a convicted felon could be appointed as guardian of the client’s father.  He was a close family friend, but the client feared that a court would not appoint the family friend because of his conviction.

It turns out that convictions only automatically disqualify a person from being appointed a guardian if the incapacitated person is subject to the jurisdiction of the Office of Public Guardian. Criminal history is a factor for the courts when they determine if a person should be appointed as a legal guardian, or when the court appoints a guardian for a minor should the child’s parents be unable to care for the child.  But neither the general guardian statute or power of attorney statute mentions criminal history as a factor precluding disqualifying someone who wants to become either.  Therefore, our client’s family friend is not be automatically precluded to be appointed as guardian of our client’s father based on his previous felony convictions.  The court still can take the history of this person into account when making a decision, but it is not a deal breaker.

To discuss your NJ Guardianship matter, please contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at fniemann@hnlawfirm.com.  Please ask us about our video conferencing consultations if you are unable to come to our office.