Guardianship & Alternatives Options Go Bag

What You Need When You're Preparing For the Future

At 18, all individuals, including those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, reach the legal age of majority. This means that a parent can no longer make decisions legally on behalf of their children. Most people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities can manage their own affairs with assistance and guidance from others, such as family and friends. If guardianship is necessary, it should be tailored to the person’s needs.

Read more of The Arc's position on Guardianship HERE.

Families considering guardianship should learn more about all the options before making a final decision. For additional information read The Arc of New Jersey Family Institute’s Guardianship Guide.

Pro Se

Pro se means "without a petitioning attorney". The proposed guardian represents himself or herself in court. Pro Se forms and instructions can be found HERE.

Department of Human Services, Bureau of Guardianship Services (BGS)

Establishing guardianship is a legal process, and many families turn to the Bureau of Guardianship Services at the Department of Human Services for help with the process. BGS is responsible for processing and tracking guardianship actions for people served by the Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) who have been evaluated according to state law and determined to require a guardian. BGS is only able to serve individuals who have been determined by DDD, through its application process, to be eligible for its services.

Bureau of Guardianship - Fact Sheet


Information on Supported Decision-Making

Supported Decision-Making is a way people can make their own decisions and stay in charge of their lives, while receiving any help they need to do so.

New Jersey Surrogates

Information offered through the Office of the Surrogate.

The word “Surrogate” means one who takes the place of another.  Each county has a Surrogate’s Court, with the Surrogate acting as the Judge of that court.  The Surrogate is elected for a term of five years pursuant to the Constitution of New Jersey.

The Surrogate’s Court is almost certain to touch the lives of every person in the county at some time.  

- Probate Wills  
- Process adoptions
- Process contested probate matters
- Process alleged incompetents
- Film and record all probate proceedings
- Invest minors’ funds
- Appoint guardians of minors
- Administration of estates without wills

Contact information:

Legal Services of new Jersey (LSNJ) coordinates the statewide Legal Services system in New Jersey, providing free legal assistance to low-income people in civil matters.

Apply Online

Apply by Phone:



This service is provided at no charge, but applicants must be financially eligible to qualify.

Legal help is available in all languages and to the hearing impaired.

All calls are confidential.


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