Guardianship is a two-step process. First, there is a determination that the person is incompetent or unable to make important decisions for himself. This determination is often supported by medical records, a doctor’s affidavit, or, in some cases, a Multi-Disciplinary Evaluation (“MDE”). Second, the Court decides who will be the best person to make decisions on behalf of the incompetent. Sometimes everyone agrees that a loved one is not able to make or communicate decisions for himself, but there is a family dispute about who should be appointed the guardian over that person.
Our guardianship attorneys regularly counsel clients through difficult family disagreements in both steps of the guardianship process. Our team frequently utilizes mediation and other alternative dispute resolution methods to arrive at a mutually agreeable outcome, but is prepared to turn to guardianship litigation when necessary.
Our guardianship attorneys have experience advising clients in the following types of guardianship matters in North Carolina:
Guardianship of an Adult — We counsel clients through the guardianship process for elderly adults suffering from chronic illness, dementia, and Alzheimer's Disease as well as those adults who are susceptible to undue influence, financial exploitation, or elder abuse. We also represent clients in guardianships for adults suffering from drug addiction, alcohol dependence, or mental illness.
Guardianship of a Child — We represent parents of special needs children who are close to turning 18 and reaching the age of majority. We have experience counseling parents of children with deafness, blindness, Autism, and traumatic brain injury (TBI) as they seek to empower these young adults to live as independently as possible, while also ensuring they are legally protected.
Guardianship of a Minor — We advise parents of minor children who need a guardian in order to receive and hold some monetary interest for their minor child. We have experience representing parents of minor children who are beneficiaries of life insurance, retirement accounts, and legal settlements.
Limited Guardianship — Sometimes an incompetent adult is able to make decisions about certain areas of her life but not others. For example, sometimes an incompetent adult is able to feed and dress herself but not able to balance her checkbook or otherwise manage her finances. Under certain circumstances, a limited guardianship may be appropriate and may be the least restrictive option to ensure a loved one is adequately protected while maintaining as much legal independence and personal autonomy as possible.