It’s all too common: as parents get older, some of their faculties begin to decline. Eventually, the parent’s mental abilities may begin to fail, and you could find yourself needing to make various decisions on their behalf. There is one issue, however: you aren’t allowed to make some of those decisions because you don’t have the legal authority. Your family is now in an impossible situation—your parent needs to do something that they simply are not mentally capable of doing any more, and you, the person who is able and willing to help out your parent in their time of need, are not allowed to because you are not authorized by law to do so. It may be too late to get a general durable power of attorney, but you may have the option of seeking guardianship over your parent. North Carolina law, fortunately, provides both the process and requirements for obtaining guardianship.
First, you will have to draft a petition for a finding of incompetency and appointment of guardianship. The North Carolina Courts government website has a fillable form that is freely accessible to take the mystery out of creating the petition. Much of the information will be simple, including information such as the name, age, address, and county of residence of the person whom you speak guardianship over, as well as the same information for yourself or whoever is filing the petition. The petitioner will also need a general statement of the parent’s assets, liabilities, and a good understanding of what they are and are not mentally capable of. Once you or your attorney has made the petition, you will then file it with the courthouse clerk.
Once the petition is filed, the clerk will then appoint a guardian ad litem, or temporary guardian, for your parent. The guardian ad litem operates as a representative for the parent to make sure that their best interests are being represented. At this point, the clerk may schedule a hearing to determine the incapacity of the parent. Whatever the outcome of the hearing, either you or the appointed guardian ad litem will have the opportunity to appeal an outcome you don’t agree with and get a second chance at a favorable outcome.
If the parent is found to be incompetent, then the clerk will also have to determine who is the most suitable person to be a guardian. While the initial petition allows the petitioner to request guardianship or recommend others as guardians, the clerk makes the final decision. A hearing will allow the petitioner to determine who the best person is through evidence and testimony. Upon considering evidence and testimony, the clerk will make their final decision and appoint a guardian.
Filing a petition to become a guardian over a parent is not as simple as filing and becoming a guardian. This can take time, resources, and you also may not become your parent’s guardian at the end of the hearing. While the outcome of the hearings cannot be guaranteed, an attorney that is experienced in guardianship matters can present the right facts in a light most favorable to getting your desired outcome.
If you need assistance with the guardianship process, don’t hesitate to contact King Law Offices at 888-748-KING (5464). Our compassionate legal team is ready to listen to your concerns, offer guidance, and provide the support you need during this challenging time. Remember, you don’t have to face this situation alone.