If your loved one can no longer fulfill day-to-day tasks and functions, it could be time to appoint a guardian for them. The guardianship process is a safe and beneficial way to ensure they are properly cared for.
With the guidance of an experienced estate planning attorney, both guardian and ward can rest easy knowing that the future is secure. NC guardianship lawyers can help you through the appointment process and give you the peace of mind that your loved one is in good hands.
If you are in the process of establishing legal guardianship, contact Cary Estate Planning to schedule your free consultation.
There are two distinct areas that a guardian can be appointed to oversee, and a combination of the two that allows both areas to be included. Both forms of guardianship will enable an individual to manage their loved one’s life when they can no longer care for themselves, but each role requires different tasks.
The guardian of the person cares for the individual’s physical and personal needs and ensures they are fed, clothed, housed, and kept safe. Most importantly, the guardian is responsible for two essential items: residential placement and medical decision-making.
These responsibilities might include securing suitable living conditions and arranging medical services and treatment for their ward. The guardian of a person is expected to make an informed decision on the ward’s needs by taking into account their wishes, financial circumstances, and physical circumstances.
A guardian of the estate oversees the ward’s financial matters. They are tasked with budgeting, preserving, and protecting the ward’s assets. They may also distribute income and appraise property on their ward’s behalf.
Guardianship of the estate is often used when a person cannot manage their financial affairs but has enough income or assets that require management. The guardian must regularly report to the courts on the estate’s status or how money was spent. Guardianship of the estate is generally not granted if the potential ward does not have financial assets.
The court clerk can grant guardianship of the person and guardianship of the estate, if both are warranted, as what is termed General Guardianship, where the named general guardian has both sets of authorities and responsibilities listed above.
Both types of guardianship come with significant responsibilities, so it is essential to choose guardians carefully. An experienced guardianship lawyer can outline the duties involved and guide Cary residents through the petition and appointment processes.
Cary residents who wish to attend to their family member or loved one’s well-being can initiate a guardianship proceeding in North Carolina. First, they must file a petition with the Clerk of Court requesting adjudication of incompetence. The clerk will appoint a local attorney to serve as “guardian ad litem.” The guardian ad litem represents the respondent and reports to the clerk. The goal is to appoint an independent party to provide an unbiased report to the clerk as to the needs of the potential ward.
After a guardianship lawyer has been retained, there will be a hearing on the petition where both sides will present evidence in front of the clerk. If the clerk decides that the respondent is competent, the proceeding will end with no further action. If the respondent is found to be incompetent, the clerk will appoint a guardian. The clerk has broad discretion about who to select and does not always assign guardianship to the petitioner.
If guardianship is needed, North Carolina law allows an individual to request the clerk’s appointment of a particular guardian of the estate. This can be accomplished through a durable power of attorney for finances.
However, the clerk can appoint someone else if they determine it is in the ward’s best interests. A nearby guardianship attorney can guide individuals through filing the necessary requests to make sure their loved ones will be cared for.
What if only one parent dies?
If you and your spouse have a minor child and your spouse passes away, you will still have legal child custody. However, since you are your children’s last living parent, it might be beneficial to appoint a guardian in your will. This protects your children if you pass away while they are still minors and avoids a contentious custody battle between surviving family members.
How can I support my kids after I’m gone other than appointing a guardian?
Along with appointing a guardian, you should consider leaving your children assets in your will or trust. Another option is to establish life insurance so your children will have funds after you have passed away. Finally, leave your appointed guardian detailed instructions on how to care for your children, so they are well-prepared in case you die.
When does legal guardianship terminate?
Legal guardianship over a minor terminates once they turn 18. If you are a guardian of an adult who cannot take care of themselves, guardianship ends when the protected person passes away. Additionally, guardianship also ends if the guardian dies. In that scenario, a new guardian must be appointed to care for the protected person.
Navigating the guardianship process can be lengthy and frustrating, especially when the matters are so close to heart. Professional legal counsel can smooth the appointment process and help ensure that your loved one will be financially secure for the rest of their life.
If you are considering appointing a guardian, a devoted Cary guardianship lawyer can provide step-by-step legal guidance throughout the process. Call Cary Estate Planning today for assistance in protecting your family and their future.