1. My mother or father is having trouble remembering to do things, such as taking her medicine, pay bills, etc. what can I do?
  1. What is a guardian?
  1. How is someone determined to be incompetent?
  1. My grandfather has been in a nursing home for a number of years, he does not recognize any of us, and he is unable to feed or care for himself. Should I have him declared incompetent?
  1. If your mother has not already executed a power of attorney, you may want to encourage her to do so. However, she must be competent at the time she does this, so if she is not able to understand what you are asking of her it may possibly be too late. In that instance, you may want to seek to have your mother declared incompetent and have yourself or someone else appointed to serve as her guardian.
  1. A “guardian” is someone who is appointed by the Clerk of Superior Court to act on behalf of an incompetent adult. In North Carolina there are three types of guardians for an incompetent adult (ward), they are:


    • Guardian of the Person: This person makes decisions about the ward’s personal care and well-being, such as housing and medical decisions. The Guardian of the Person cannot handle the ward’s money.

    • Guardian of the Estate: This person handles the ward’s finances (estate), but cannot make decisions about the ward’s personal care and well-being.

    • General Guardian: The general guardian is someone who has the power to make personal decisions for and handle the finances of the ward.


  1. A petition seeking to have someone declared incompetent must be filed. The person is entitled to a jury trial, or the matter may be heard before the Clerk of Superior Court. Generally, there has to be medical or psychological evidence to assist the jury or Clerk in determining whether the person no longer has the ability to make decisions or care for himself or herself.
  1. The guardianship process is very emotionally trying, and is not something that should be done without carefully considering all options. The major advantage of a guardianship is that it gives someone else the legal authority to make decisions. If you do not have that legal authority AND someone questions your right to make placement or medical decisions, your instructions may be ignored.

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