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

A client was just appointed as guardian for her ward (ward is the incapacitated person). The ward never executed a Health Care Proxy or Advanced Healthcare Directive. The assisted living facility is asking the guardian to sign a POLST (I’ll explain POLST in the next paragraph). The question is whether she has the legal authority.

A POLST is primarily a physician or nurse practitioner order, which must first and foremost, be signed/issued by the medical practitioner. The State-approved POLST form clearly anticipates (in Section F) that a guardian be involved in the process, where the patient is incapacitated. A physician or nurse practitioner can complete the POLST form based upon a legally recognized surrogate decision marker’s understanding of the patient’s preferences. The surrogate can then sign the POLST form on behalf of the patient.

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