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

Determining Incompetence
Anyone may file a written request (a petition) with the clerk of superior court alleging that an adult (the respondent) should be declared incompetent. The petition must include a sworn statement that the information in the petition is true. 

When a petition is filed, the clerk of court sets a date and time for the guardianship hearing. The sheriff serves copies of the petition and notice of the hearing on the respondent and on his attorney or other representative. 

The petitioner may not need to be represented by an attorney at the hearing. However, it is advisable to talk with an attorney before starting a proceeding to have the court declare someone incompetent.