North Carolina Guardianships for Elderly Parents

What do you do when your parents need a guardian appointed? It is not an easy matter to make the decision to have a guardian appointed for your parents. As parents age, they lose abilities, but not usually all at once. It will likely be a gradual decline, and will be difficult to see when it has come to a point where guardianship is the right course of action. Often, some sort of precipitating event will happen, such as a refusal to accept important medical treatment or some incident involving the parent at home by themselves.

Not to mention, the terms and phrases associated with a guardianship are not looked upon too kindly by the person needing a guardian. Phrases like “incompetent,” “unable to manage affairs,” and “lacks capacity” are offensive to a person, particularly if such phrases are coming from the mouth of the children they raised.

When should elderly parents have a guardian appointed? – Raleigh and Durham Guardianship Lawyers

On occasion, it is abundantly clear that a parent needs a guardian appointed. There could be a medical diagnosis, the person could be in a coma, or some other really clear sign could exist. Often, though, it is not so clear to a person who witnesses a gradual decline of ability. In general though, when a parent can no longer take care of themself, either because of a mental condition or a physical inability, it may be necessary to appoint a guardian.

It can be especially hard if the parent has periods of lucidity. The first step is typically to seek professional guidance. Medical professionals are equipped with exams that can be performed to narrow down the scope of ability a person has to manage their own care and finances.

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How is a guardian appointed? – NC Guardianship Proceedings

The Clerk of Court has to declare a parent incompetent and appoint a guardian. This can be limited if needed to preserve the rights of the parent if they are able to handle some of their own affairs, but not others. You would start by filing a petition with the Clerk and notifying the interested parties so they can participate in the proceeding. You also want to find out if the person has any documentation, such as a Power of Attorney or Health Care Proxy, which may have nominated a guardian in the event they are declared incompetent.

There will then be a hearing where the Clerk of Court will take evidence and make a determination about whether the person is fit to handle their own affairs. The hearing will then evolve into a determination as to who is in the best position to handle the affairs. It can be a difficult experience for someone handling a guardianship proceeding for the first time.

Our firm is often hired either to represent the person trying to have another person appointed a guardian or one of the interested parties who wants to be involved. We will often file applications, prepare cases, and present evidence in guardianship proceedings for our clients.

What can be done ahead of time to make the process easier?

The answer to this is simply good estate planning. Revocable Trusts, Powers of Attorney and Health Care Proxies will often make the process of appointing a Guardian unnecessary or if still necessary, will make the process simpler overall and may eliminate costs which would normally accrue during a guardianship’s administration.

If you are considering having your parent appointed a Guardian or are trying to participate in a Guardianship proceeding,

Call (919) 244-2019 or Email law@hoplerwilms.com to reach a licensed NC Guardianship Attorney.

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