The Guardianship Association of New Jersey, Inc.


Guardianship Association of New Jersey, Inc.

GANJI is a not-for-profit organization of professionals, families, and individuals committed to supporting guardians and other surrogate decision makers in enhancing the lives of persons who require assistance.

Our Address:   P.O. Box 546, Chester, NJ 07930

Executive Director:   Jane E. Gildersleeve, RG

Annual Conference

The Annual Conference was held on April 9, 2013 at the Forsgate Country Club in Monroe Township.

The theme of the Conference was:

 "Empowering the Guardian: Challenges in Advocacy"

The Opening Address was given by Teena Cahill, Psy.D., Wisdom & Beyond LLC, Princeton, NJ.

Our Conference Sponsors and Exhibitors



BAYADA Home Health Care

Care Alternatives

Laura Kellett Realty, LLC

Law Office of Sharon Rivenson Mark

Schenck, Price, Smith & King, LLP

Whispering Knoll Assisted Living



Arden Courts

Back Home Safely

Fink, Rosner, Ershow-Levenberg, LLC

Joan Kakascik, Ed.D.

Life Choice Hospice

Mt. Bethel Village

Ocean Healthcare

SEM Applications

Senior Home Care Services

Springpoint at Monroe Village

Towne Nursing Staff, Inc.

Urbach & Avraham, CPA's LLC

Law Office of Donald D. Vanarelli

The Atrium at Hamilton Park


Shirley B. Whitenack, Esq., a long-standing trustee of GANJI will be a 2011 Recipient of the Ann Klein Award of the Community Health Law Project on October 20th.  For information on the Awards presentation click here:


As a partner at Schenck, Price, Smith & King, LLP, Ms. Whitenack devotes a substantial amount of time to trust and estate litigation and elder and special needs law, particularly surrogate arrangements to protect the elderly and people with disabilities, special needs planning and Medicaid appeals.  She is very involved in several professional and non-profit organizations that serve individuals with disabilities. Ms. Whitenack has devoted her career to legally serving individuals with disabilities and has donated her legal services without hesitation and represented local non profits serving families with disabilities.

Ms. Whitenack is a past trustee of the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Education (NJICLE) and a current member of the NJICLE Advisory Board.  She is a long-standing trustee of the Guardianship Association of New Jersey, Inc. (GANJI).  GANJI’s mission is similar to the work Shirley has provided throughout her distinguished legal career - to ensure optimum independence for persons in need of guardianship services both to enhance their lives and protect them through advocacy, education, ethical standards, and the development of least restrictive alternatives. She is also a member of the Special Needs Alliance (SNA), an invitation-only nationwide alliance of special needs planning attorneys. Through this group, Shirley is recognized as a leader and sought out for her legal assistance to draft special needs trusts and wills, legal assistance, guardianship, and more. She is also a member of the American Bar Association’s Litigation and Real Property, Trusts & Estates Section; the New Jersey State Bar Foundation’s Program Development Committee, the Morris County Bar Association and its Estates & Trusts Committee and is the New Jersey State Reporter for the National Alliance of the Mentally Ill (NAMI).  Most recently, Ms. Whitenack has been selected as incoming secretary of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), which is dedicated to improving the quality of legal services provided to seniors and people with special needs.

Ms. Whitenack has received several awards for her work in supporting those with disabilities including two from the New Jersey State Bar Association – The Legislative Service Award in 2003 for her contribution in drafting and promoting revisions to New Jersey’s guardianship statutes and a Distinguished Service Award in 2009.  She also received GANJI’s Recognition Award for her contribution in advocating for the civil rights of incapacitated adults. 

GANJI Reform Becomes a Reality in New Jersey

New Jersey, January 20, 2006 Substantial amendments to New Jersey’s guardianship statutes were signed into law on January 11, 2006 and are effective immediately. Attempting to improve protections for the legal rights of New Jersey’s most vulnerable citizens, the new legislation acknowledges different types of guardianship, such as temporary guardianship, limited guardianship, special guardianship and full guardianship. It requires all participants in the guardianship process to consider and respect the decision-making abilities of the incapacitated person and to encourage self-determination where possible. GANJI actively supported the new reforms.  Some of the changes include:

Determination of Capacity  Provides that either a ward or a guardian may petition the court for restoration to competency.

Choosing  a Guardian

  • Directs the court to consider surrogate decision-maker designated by the individual in a power of attorney, health care proxy or advance directive in selecting a guardian.

  • Gives priority to a “registered domestic partner” as well as a spouse in the selection of guardian. 

Authority and Scope of Guardianship

  • Permits the court to appoint a limited guardian when an incapacitated person can do some but not all tasks to care for himself or herself.

  • Permits the appointment of a temporary guardian on notice to the alleged incapacitated person and his or her court-appointed attorney pending the final hearing if there is risk of substantial harm.

  • Permits the guardian to initiate litigation, including actions alleging fraud, abuse, undue influence and exploitation, or defend litigation on behalf of the alleged incapacitated person.

  • Permits the guardian to engage in planning concerning public assistance programs consistent with current law.

  • Provides that a guardian is not legally obligated to provide for the ward from the guardian’s own funds and is not liable to a third party for acts of the ward solely by reason of the guardianship relationship.

  • States that a guardian is not liable for injury to the ward from conduct of a care provider unless the guardian failed to exercise reasonable care in choosing the provider.

  • Provides that generally a guardian is bound by the ward’s previously executed health care power of attorney or advance directive unless otherwise directed by the court.

  • Allows the guardian, to the extent specifically ordered by the court for good cause shown, to initiate voluntary admission of the ward to a state or private psychiatric facility.

  • Permits the guardian to sell or dispose of the ward’s personal property, including vehicles, to meet the ward’s needs.

Duties of  the Guardian

  • Requires the guardian to give due regard to the preferences of the ward and encourage the ward’s participation in decision-making.

  • Requires the guardian to personally visit the ward every three months or in such intervals as deemed appropriate by the court and to maintain sufficient contact to know the ward’s capacities, limitations and needs.

Guardian Accountability            

  • Requires the guardian to report annually to the court on the ward’s condition and the ward’s estate, and specifies the content of the guardian’s report.

  • Requires the guardian to abide by the “Prudent Investor Act” in handling the ward’s assets.

On January 12, 2006, legislation governing professional guardians also was signed into law. The legislation, which becomes effective 180 days from that date, requires those professional guardians with five or more wards unrelated to them to register with the office of New Jersey’s Public Guardian.

Prepared by Shirley B. Whitenack, Esq.


The information contained on this website is not intended to be legal, medical or tax advice nor is it intended to create a client relationship. Specific issues and situations should be addressed to an appropriate professional.

All contents © GANJI