How Can a North Carolina Guardianship Order be Modified?

Written by Jonathan Breeden

October 12, 2018

If a member of your family is unable to care for him or herself, it’s likely that a court has issued a guardianship order. This order will appoint a responsible person to care for your loved one – known as a ward in this situation – after they become incapacitated. Sometimes, however, a guardian is unable to adequately complete their responsibilities, in which case you may want to have the guardianship order terminated or modified. Fortunately, the process for doing so is relatively straightforward.

If you wish to revoke an order of guardianship, contact a North Carolina legal guardianship lawyer from Breeden Law Office for help. To schedule an initial case consultation, contact us today at (919) 661-4970.

Understanding the Process of Modifying Guardianship

Any interested person or their legal representative can file a motion to modify guardianship. It’s important to note that you can’t submit this motion in just any court. You need to file the motion with the clerk of the county court that issued the original guardianship order. If your filing meets procedural requirements, the clerk will schedule a hearing and notify all the other interested parties.

In some cases, you may not be able to wait for a hearing to modify guardianship. Fortunately, clerks are authorized to issue ex-parte orders that take immediate effect pending the formal hearing. For you to obtain an ex-parte order, you must prove that some emergency situation exists that necessitates guardianship modification. Generally, the ward’s physical safety or financial situation must be directly at-risk for a clerk to issue an ex-parte order.

In non-emergency situations, a guardianship order may be modified by a judge who will hear the arguments and evidence of all interested parties. The guardianship order may be modified if you can establish that it will improve the management of the ward’s estate, better meet the care of the ward, or otherwise protect their interests. As in all court proceedings, your chances of obtaining the desired result will increase significantly if you retain an experienced North Carolina guardianship lawyer.

How to Remove a Guardian

Sometimes, courts appoint guardians that are unfit for the job. They may be incompetent, or even criminally dishonest. For this reason, North Carolina law created a straightforward process for revoking guardianship. The clerk of the court that issued the guardianship order may remove the guardian based on information that comes to their attention, or a formal complaint from an interested party.

For the termination of guardianship to take place, there must be evidence that the guardian did any of the following:

  • Mismanaged the ward’s estate
  • Stole from the ward
  • Otherwise breached a fiduciary duty
  • Neglected to care for the ward and their dependents
  • Has a conflict of interest
  • Is not qualified to act as a guardian
  • Failed to provide the clerk with accountings of the estate

These are just some of the reasons guardianship may be revoked. If you believe a loved one’s guardian may not be the best choice, you should talk to a North Carolina family lawyer to discuss the case further. In some cases, family members concerned about the management of an incapacitated person’s estate discover that there is no guardianship order at all. The management of the estate may be authorized through a power of attorney agreement, which is a different legal mechanism for entrusting important health and financial decisions to other people.

Do You Need Help With a Guardianship Order? Contact Us Today

Guardianship is terminated only if the ward dies, becomes competent again, or if the guardian is either voluntarily or involuntarily removed. This means that under normal circumstances, a toxic guardianship can only be solved if a friend or family member steps in. Allowing an incompetent or malicious guardian to remain in place can wreak havoc on a family’s well-being and finances. To learn more about modifying a guardianship order, call Breeden Law Office today at (919) 661-4970, or reach out online to schedule an evaluation of your case.


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