Guardianship is a legal relationship in which someone (the guardian) is authorized by the clerk of superior court to be a substitute decision maker for an incompetent adult (the ward). Incompetence is determined in a court proceeding and means an individual is unable to manage his own affairs, or is unable to make important decisions.
There are three types of guardians:
- Guardian of the person (makes decisions in most areas of the ward's life, such as where they live, what type of care they receive, medical decisions)
- Guardian of the Estate (has authority to manage the ward's income, bank accounts, other financial affairs, property)
- 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 a department 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 be declared incompetent and have a guardian appointed. The clerk's office has forms that may be completed and filed for the petition. Currently, the Adult Protection, Guardianship, and Monitoring Unit (APGM) may file a petition on individuals in need of protection who are in facilities and no longer able to make decisions on their own and have no one who can or will act on their behalf.
The Department of Social Services currently serves as Guardian for a number of wards, who have no family or friends available to serve in that capacity.
Guardianship Services include:
- Case management
- Monthly assessments of ward's needs (by visiting with the ward, and communicating with health providers or other persons involved with the ward)
- Development of a service plan
- Quarterly assessments and yearly assessments
- File necessary reports with the clerk of superior court
The individual needing services or someone acting on the individual's behalf can call the Adult Services line at 704-920-1400 to request assistance. Requests for assistance can also be made in person.