A guardianship is a legal relationship where a guardian is the substitute decision maker for an incompetent adult. In North Carolina, the court may find a person incompetent where he or she cannot manage his or her affairs or cannot make important decisions.
Petitioning the court
Any person can petition the court to determine whether a person is incompetent and ask to be appointed as the person’s guardian. However, the petition must include a sworn statement by the petitioner that the information he or she is submitting to the court is true.
To determine incompetency, the court may order the person to receive medical, psychological and social evaluations. The proposed guardian and the person may have copies of those results. If the court finds that the person is incompetent, a guardian will be appointed.
Depending on the type of guardianship, the guardian may make decisions for the individual about where he or she will live, manage the person’s finances and make medical treatment decisions. He or she may be appointed as a guardian of the estate, guardian of the person or as a general guardian.
While the guardian does not have to financially support the incompetent person and can receive reimbursement for reasonable expenses incurred as the guardian, he or she is responsible for submitting financial accountings to the court of how they are managing the incompetent person’s funds and must send periodic status reports to the court.
The guardianship may end if the guardian resigns or if the person is no longer incompetent. The process can seem complex, however there is assistance available to help proposed guardians navigate it.