Guardianship is a legal relationship in which someone (the guardian) is authorized by the clerk of superior to be a substitute decision maker for an incompetent adult (protected persons). Incompetence is determined in a court proceeding and means an adult is unable to manage his or her own affairs, or is unable to make important decisions.

Three types of guardian:

  • Guardian of the person (makes decisions in most areas of the individual under guardianship's life, such as where they live, what type of care they receive, medical decisions)
  • Guardian of the Estate (has authority to manage the individual under guardianship's income and property) and
  • General Guardian (has the powers and duties of both guardian of the person, and guardian of the estate)

Anyone, including a family member, a representative of social services, mental health center, health department, or anyone else who knows the person, may file a written request (a petition) with the clerk of superior court alleging that an adult should be declared incompetent and have a guardian appointed. Every clerk's office has forms that may be completed and filed for the petition. Currently the Adult Protective Service Unit may file a petition on individuals who are either indigent, or in need of protection, and have no one who can or will act in their behalf.

Guardianship services include:

  • Case management
  • Monthly assessments of individual under guardianship's needs (by visiting with the individual under guardianship, communicating with health providers, and other persons who are involved with the individual under guardianship)
  • Development of a service plan
  • Quarterly assessments and yearly assessments
  • File necessary reports with the court/estate division