In 1993, the Adult Protective Services Act was passed in New Jersey. As a result, each county in New Jersey has an Adult Protective Services Unit to assist its clients and sometimes take affirmative action on their behalf such as filing a guardianship proceeding. The person must be residing in the community, and not in an institutional setting in order for Adult Protective Services worker to become involved.
The purpose of the agency is to deal with a vulnerable adult who is in crisis by the least intrusive methods and fostering the individual’s right to self-determination.
The agency is primarily set up to deal with physical or mental abuse or neglect or exploitation of a vulnerable county resident over age 18. Abuse includes physical, sexual and emotional distress. Neglect means that the person is not taking care of their own personal needs such as providing food, shelter, healthcare. Exploitation involves the misappropriation of assets through coercion, misrepresentation or theft. It may also include, forcing the individual to execute a will or power of attorney, promising long term care services or being taken advantage of by a fiduciary.
Typically, the vulnerable adult is not the person who contacts Adult Protective Services. The referral source would be someone with firsthand knowledge of events that may be happening. Typically they are family members or neighbors. Banks and other financial institutions may anonymously report if they observe questionable transactions. Police, medical and mental health providers must make a referral to the local Adult Protective Services unit is they suspect abuse of any kind.
To contact your local Adult Protective Services unit, you may go to New Jersey’s website at https://www.state.nj.us/humanservices/doas/home/adultpsp.html.
If you believe that someone you know is in need of protection, you can also contact our attorneys at Weiss & Tom.