What is a guardianship? And why should I hire a lawyer to seek one over someone else?
A guardianship is a special legal relationship that is created when an individual is appointed by the court system to care for a person who cannot take care of themselves. Sometimes this relationship is confused with a Power of Attorney. In a Power of Attorney relationship, the principle (or the person giving the power to someone else) is competent to sign over that power. In a guardianship relationship, the court is stripping someone of their right to act for themselves because they are deemed incompetent. Our firm can help you navigate the possibilities of effectuating a power of attorney so long as your loved one is still competent and able to understand the document.
So, if your parent, spouse, or other loved one cannot care for themselves any longer, and there is no viable Power of Attorney already in place, he or she may need a guardian appointed. Once appointed as Guardian, the person that you have guardianship over is referred to as the “Ward.” The Guardian is responsible for most every decision regarding the Ward and their money, residential arrangements, among other things.
There are different types of guardians, such as a guardian of the person, a guardian of the estate, and a general guardian. Attorney that handle guardianship matters can strategize and assist you in achieving the appropriate and desired outcomes.
Our firm represents individuals seeking to obtain guardianship over individuals no longer able to manage their own affairs. Sometimes with age, illness, or intellectual disabilities comes the need to file such a proceeding to efficiently manage the care and assets of a family member. Our office also represents individuals listed as interested parties who wish to participate in the guardianship proceeding
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There are three types of guardianship established in North Carolina.
Guardian of the Person – A guardian of the person is someone who is appointed to make decisions about living arrangements, medical treatment, education, and anything that helps with the Ward’s general overall wellbeing. These duties may include taking the ward to doctors’ appointments, making sure they live somewhere safe and are able to be taken care of if they can’t do something on their own.
Guardian of the Estate – A guardian of the estate is someone who helps with and manages finances. This may include paying bills, selling real estate, and otherwise handling the Ward’s accounts or social security payments. This type of guardian is expected to provide an inventory of the Ward’s assets to the court, as well as an annual accounting to the court for the Ward’s assets. This type of guardian also has to hold a special insurance policy during their appointment, also known as a fiduciary bond.
General Guardian – A general guardian is someone who is a combination of a guardian of the person and guardian of the estate. This means making both financial decisions and decisions about the Ward’s wellbeing, including medical decisions for them. This type of guardianship also must complete the necessary accounting to the clerk and hold a fiduciary bond during their time appointed as guardian.
Our firm can help you navigate the initial guardianship hearing, the accountings required by the court, or any other motions to modify the guardianship in subsequent years after appointment.