Angier Guardianship Attorney

 
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Caring for those who need extra attention can be a rewarding experience, but there are legal considerations you must take when you must step into the shoes of children, spouses, elderly parents, or grandparents.

The law prohibits you from managing another person’s personal and financial affairs unless you have proper authorization from the individual or permission from the court. You may be ready and willing to help with health care, banking, and real estate issues, but you need legal status as a guardian to act. The process of obtaining guardianship is complicated, requiring proper documentation and multiple court hearings. Under the circumstances, it’s critical to retain an Angier guardianship attorney to represent you.

Angier family attorney Jonathan Breeden has been assisting families in Angier as they face tough guardianship issues. A critical aspect of his advocacy is explaining the relevant legal concepts of a case, so clients can understand and properly exercise their responsibilities as guardians.

If you believe guardianship is the right choice for you and your loved one, contact Breeden Law Office at (919) 809-6599 to schedule a consultation of your case.

How Guardianship Works in North Carolina

Guardianship is a status you can request from a court, and it enables you to act on behalf of a person who lacks the requisite legal capacity to make decisions. North Carolina’s guardianship laws define a guardian as the person who takes handles financial, medical, and other personal decisions for an incapacitated individual. A ward is an individual who needs someone to help with decision-making due to age or incompetency.

Three types of legal guardians can act for a ward:

  • Guardian of the Person – When the ward needs assistance with medical treatment, health care, educational matters, living arrangements, and other personal tasks, the court may appoint a guardian of the person.
  • Guardian of the Estate – A court may appoint someone to act as this type of guardian when the ward is unable to handle financial decisions and tasks. The estate may include real or personal property, bank accounts, Social Security benefits, investments, and other assets.
  • General Guardian – When it makes sense for one person to take on the tasks of both an estate and personal guardian, a court may appoint the same individual to manage both aspects of the ward’s life.

Under certain circumstances, it may be appropriate for a business to act as legal guardian because of the ward’s unique needs. If the ward’s best interests require a health care professional to act as personal guardian, a court may approve an assisted living center to take on the role. Where the ward has considerable or complex assets, there may be a need for a financial expert.

If you have questions about the different types of guardianship in North Carolina, call an Angier guardianship attorney right away.

Responsibilities of a Guardian

North Carolina imposes strict requirements on the duties of a personal, estate, or general guardian. Under the “prudent person” standard, you must act in accordance with the financial and health care decisions you would make when faced with the same set of circumstances. In the context of a personal guardian, you may need to:

  • Schedule appointments with physicians
  • Manage prescription medications
  • Provide consent to medical treatments and procedures
  • Handle the ward’s living arrangements or placement in an assisted living facility
  • Manage home care services
  • Address educational and developmental opportunities for the ward
  • Other acts as required to serve the ward’s best interests

The tasks of an estate guardian are directed toward proper management of the ward’s assets. Therefore, you may be in charge of:

  • Applying for and obtaining Social Security Disability Insurance, Supplementary Security Income, and other benefits for which the ward qualifies
  • Collecting rent and making appropriate decisions regarding the ward’s real estate
  • Monitoring bank accounts, stock portfolios, investments, and similar personal property
  • Responsible spending for the ward’s personal needs and well-being

Not only can Breeden Law Office assist with your petition for appointment as guardian and related court proceedings, but as an Angier guardianship attorney, Jonathan Breeden is can advise you in your role and responsibilities as a ward’s guardian. There can be serious consequences for shirking your duties, so it’s wise to have an experienced advocate on your side.

Common Guardianship Situations

Guardianship may become an issue for you and your family under various circumstances, but two primary scenarios that may require you to act:

  1. An adult loved one may become unable to handle their own affairs because of mental or physical medical conditions. In a case where the issues render this person unable to make decisions, someone else may have to take on the role of guardian.
  2. The law only recognizes adults as having the capacity to enter into agreements, provide consent to healthcare issues, and similar acts. As a result, if your loved one is an incapacitated child, you may need to petition the court for guardianship.

You should note that guardianship is considered temporary under North Carolina law. When children reach the age of adulthood, there is no longer a need for a guardian. Likewise, an adult may only experience temporary incapacity. A guardian would no longer be necessary when the ward regains essential faculties.

The actual process of requesting appointment is complicated. Guardianship lawyers can explain more about your role, responsibilities, and other issues if you seek appointment to such a position. However, you may want to know more about your rights when someone else has filed a petition for guardianship over a loved one.

North Carolina’s Guardianship Court Process

If guardianship is the right move for your family, it’s helpful to gain a better understanding of the court proceedings for appointment. Even when you have an Angier guardianship attorney to represent your interests, an overview should help you know what to expect.

Incompetency Proceedings

In guardianship of a minor, there is no need to prove that the child is somehow incompetent. By virtue of age alone, children cannot make medical, legal, and financial decisions.

Requesting appointment as guardian of an adult is a different issue. You must first show that the person doesn’t have the capacity for responsible decision-making. Other family members, caretakers, and even the ward may challenge your allegations. In most cases, you must rely on a health care provider or medical specialist familiar with the potential ward’s capabilities to establish incompetency.

Requesting Appointment as Guardian

Once the court determines that the ward is not capable of managing financial and personal affairs, you still need to show that you should be appointed as guardian. If there are other petitions for appointment as guardian, you may need to prove that you are better suited for the role as compared to other interested parties.

Appointment of a Guardian ad Litem

A guardian ad litem is a unique role in the guardianship process, as the ward has certain rights that must remain protected. Since a judge cannot spend hours or days observing the ward’s living arrangement, a guardian ad litem is appointed by the court to take on the responsibility of interviewing the ward and assessing their current environment. The guardian ad litem then reports back to the court and provides recommendations.

Court Hearings

Guardianship issues may be easy for a court to address, such as when parents need authority to act for a child or when the ward is diagnosed with a disability. In other cases, the court proceedings may be extensive and require a hearing. Common disputes include:

  • Whether the ward is truly incompetent
  • Who should obtain legal or personal guardianship
  • Which petitioner should be granted court appointment as guardian when multiple parties file to gain authority
  • Whether medical or financial professionals are necessary for specialized guardianship tasks

When court hearings are necessary, the proceedings bear many of the same characteristics of a trial. There will be motions, status conferences, and possibly a full trial. Angier guardianship attorney Jonathan Breeden has the experience and knowledge necessary to represent your interests effectively. Contact him today for help.

Advance Planning Tools

Guardianship proceedings can be time-consuming and expensive, but there are ways to sidestep the court process through advance directives. By planning ahead, you can take control over your personal and financial affairs while you still have the capacity to do so. Some tools for advance planning include:

  • Durable (Financial) Power of Attorney – By executing this document, you can designate someone as your agent to manage your finances and property. You may appoint your spouse as a durable power of attorney, but it’s smart to name a successor as well.
  • Healthcare Power of Attorney – With this power of attorney, you authorize an agent to make health care-, medical and personal decisions for you if a physician finds that you can’t do so yourself.

Getting legal advice on powers of attorney is critical. Guardianship lawyers can explain how advance directives work, giving you control over your future if you become incapable of managing your own affairs.

Contact an Angier Guardianship Attorney Today

Even when you have sincere intentions and want the best for a loved one who needs help with personal and financial matters, there are still legal requirements to take on the role of guardian. When technical statutes and strict procedural rules create hurdles, you need reliable legal counsel to assist you with the process.

Attorney Jonathan Breeden knows the legal challenges of the guardianship process can be daunting. Whether you seek appointment as guardian or want your voice to be heard regarding someone else who filed a petition, he will work hard to help you achieve your objectives.

For more information or to schedule a consultation with an Angier guardianship attorney, contact Breeden Law Office at (919) 809-6599.

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