Raleigh Guardianship Attorney

 
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We dedicate considerable time and effort into caring for our children, spouses, parents, grandparents, and others who need help. As a caretaker, you may do it out of love, moral obligation, and a sense of duty. However, no amount of dedication can overcome the legal aspects of managing a loved one’s personal and financial matters.

Though you may be willing to take on these responsibilities, you need official permission to act. In some situations, being able to provide the care you intend requires a certain type of legal status called guardianship. As a guardian, you may be appointed by a judge to handle the medical care, housing, and finances of a person who cannot make responsible decisions on their own. However, you’ll need a skilled Raleigh guardianship attorney to help you through the process.

Raleigh family lawyer Jonathan Breeden has extensive experience representing clients who need help understanding their situation. He has helped many families in Raleigh and the surrounding areas with guardianship issues. If you feel that becoming a legal guardian is a wise decision for you, contact Breeden Law Office at (919) 480-8005 or go online to schedule a consultation.

Guardianship in North Carolina

Legal guardianship describes a situation where a person obtains court approval to act on behalf of another individual in certain types of decision making. Under North Carolina’s guardianship laws (which are outlined in North Carolina General Statute § 35A), a ward is an individual who has some condition that incapacitates them. A guardian is the person who makes decisions regarding financial and personal matters of the ward.

Types of Legal Guardianship

There are three forms of legal guardianship in North Carolina, including:

  • Guardianship over the Person –In this situation, the guardian is in charge of making medical, educational, and housing decisions for the ward. As a personal guardian, you would handle living arrangements, education, healthcare, and related matters.
  • Guardianship over the Estate –A court may appoint an estate guardian to manage the ward’s finances, assets, and investments.
  • General Guardianship –The personal guardian and estate guardian are only empowered to handle the tasks falling within their respective roles, but it may be convenient to have the same person manage both areas of the ward’s life. When appropriate, a judge may appoint a general guardian to take care of both financial and personal matters.

Note that North Carolina law allows business entities to act as guardian under certain circumstances. When the interests of the ward are best served by having a medical professional act as personal guardian, a court may approve the arrangement. Likewise, wards with extensive investments and assets may require the services of a financial adviser.

If you’re considering petitioning the court for guardianship of a loved one and don’t know which route to pursue, contact a Raleigh guardianship attorney for help.

Legal Guardianship Duties

Once the court appoints a personal, estate, or general guardian, North Carolina mandates strict requirements on that person’s duties. If you’re appointed as guardian, you must make decisions that align with what you would do when managing your own financial or personal affairs.

Some examples may help you understand how to approach your role as personal guardian. You may be in charge of:

  • Making appointments for the ward with health care providers
  • Administering prescriptions and other medications
  • Approving medical care as recommended by a physician
  • Placing the ward in appropriate accommodations or assisted living arrangements
  • Arranging home care if appropriate
  • Managing school and educational opportunities for the ward

As estate guardian, you must:

  • Monitor all assets owned by the ward, including bank accounts, investments, real estate, and other property
  • Make responsible decisions about investments so that the ward has income for personal care and well-being
  • Handle all filings for public benefits that the ward may be entitled to receive, such as Social Security Disability Insurance, and programs offered through North Carolina agencies

As a general guardian, you would be responsible for undertaking all tasks required by both the personal and estate guardian.

Guardianship Scenarios

There are different situations in which guardianship may come up for you and/or a loved one. When an adult becomes incompetent due to a medical condition and cannot make their own decisions, it’s important to have someone to act on their behalf. Children under the age of 18 are legally unable to act because they have not attained adulthood, so appointing a guardian may be necessary in certain situations. If you are the legal guardian of a child, you may need to extend the legal status into adult guardianship when the ward reaches age 18.

There are two special considerations in guardianship scenarios that you should note:

  1. A court will only appoint an adult as general guardian over a child if the biological parents have passed away or had their parental rights terminated.
  2. Guardianship may be temporary. There would be no need for guardianship when a legally competent child turns 18-years-old, and some adults may only suffer incapacity for a certain amount of time. The ward’s rights can be legally restored in these situations and others.

The laws regarding guardianship are complicated, especially considering the separate, yet sometimes overlapping roles of personal and estate guardians. Family members and other loved ones may feel conflicted when trying to ensure the ward has the best possible care, while also trying to protect their assets.

If you’re looking to retain the counsel of a lawyer who understands these complex situations, contact Jonathan Breeden today. He can explain your rights and responsibilities, whether you’re seeking guardianship or want to know more about how someone else would handle the job.

Guardianship Proceedings in North Carolina

If you’ve decided that you want to take on the role of guardian, you’ll need to know more about the process. While you should trust a Raleigh guardianship attorney to represent you in connection with the proceedings, it’s helpful to know what to expect as you move through the process.

Incompetency

In cases involving minors, there’s no need to prove incapacity. Being under 18 makes an un-emancipated child unable to make certain healthcare, legal, and financial decisions. The situation is more complicated when you want a court to appoint you as guardian of an adult. You may face challenges from many fronts, including other family members and the potential ward.

To prove incompetency, you must present evidence and testimony showing that the person is unable to take care of financial matters and medical needs on their own. This may require proof regarding a mental condition or injury.

Filing for Guardianship

Even after proving that the ward is not capable of handling personal and financial affairs, you must still show that you should be appointed as guardian. According to North Carolina law, any interested person can file a petition for guardianship. Family members, healthcare professionals, and social services agencies may have the standing to request such a position.

Role of the Guardian ad Litem

The potential ward has the right to a lawyer and a guardian ad litem. The guardian ad litem is the court’s eyes and ears concerning the minor or allegedly disabled adult. This court-appointed official interviews and observes the ward, and reporting the findings to the judge.

Court Proceedings

Guardianship matters may proceed smoothly, such as in cases where parents must gain guardianship over a disabled child upon reaching adulthood, or where an adult has been diagnosed with incurable dementia. However, many aspects of a guardianship case require a hearing, such as:

  • Whether the minor or adult suffers from incompetency
  • Who should act as legal guardian, especially when multiple interested parties request it
  • How to address personal, estate, and general guardianship>
  • Whether it’s necessary to appoint a medical or financial professional to handle guardianship tasks

The guardianship process bears many of the same characteristics of official court proceedings, requiring appearances, hearings, motions, and potentially a trial. Raleigh guardianship attorney Jonathan Breeden has experience with these proceedings, and he is ready to help you.

Other Tools for Addressing Incapacity

Guardianship can be complex, which also means legal proceedings may be time-consuming and expensive. There are ways you can plan ahead so that your family members and loved ones aren’t faced with a difficult, costly process. For instance, you may consider directives such as:

  • Health Care Power of Attorney –By executing this document, you can make another person an agent who is allowed to make medical decisions on your behalf.
  • Durable (Financial) Power of Attorney –You can appoint someoneto handle your finances, investments, real estate, and personal property through a durable power of attorney.

As with any document that is legally binding, you should consult with a Raleigh guardianship attorney before executing a power of attorney for financial or personal matters. Guardianship lawyers can advise you on your options, help you understand how powers of attorney work, and draft the necessary documents to give legal effect to your wishes.

Call an Experienced Raleigh Guardianship Attorney Today

You don’t want to let complicated laws and procedural court rules stand in the way of taking care of your loved ones. The guardianship process is necessary in most cases if you want to take on responsibilities over personal and financial matters for a minor or adult.

Attorney Jonathan Breeden is a guardianship lawyer who understands the challenges you face. With years of experience under his belt, he has assisted many clients in Raleigh with guardianship matters. Because these issues are so personal in nature, he is dedicated to staying in touch and walking you through every step of the process. As a skilled Raleigh guardianship attorney, he knows the court processes and will put you in the best position to obtain a favorable outcome.

For more information or to hear about how North Carolina laws applies to your situation, contact Breeden Law Office at (919) 480-8005 to schedule an initial consultation of your case.

Call Breeden Law Office today:

(919) 296-3978
 
 

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