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Guardianship Consultation

NOTE: The following information is intended to give an overview of ways to provide supported decision-making (a.k.a. alternatives to guardianship) in North Carolina. It is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for legal advice. For advice on making legal decisions, please seek the assistance of an attorney.

What is Guardianship?

Who is Eligible for Guardianship?

Types of Guardianships?

Guardianship is a legal relationship in which an individual is given the authority by the court to make decisions on behalf of another adult who is unable to make and/or communicate decisions on their own.

Adult guardianship exists to protect our most vulnerable citizens - but not all vulnerable adults need guardianship. Guardianship can take away people's right to make the most basic decisions for themselves - such as where they will live and what they will do in the course of a day. Before pursuing guardianship, consider less restrictive alternatives.


Court Appointed:

  1.  General Guardianship - Appointed as both Guardian of the Person and Guardian of the Estate

  2.  Guardianship of the Program - Appointed solely for the purpose of performing duties relating to care, custody, and control.

  3.  Guardianship of the Estate - Appointed solely for the purpose of managing property, estate, and business affairs.

  4.  Limited Guardianship - Tailored to fit the individual in the areas in which assistance with decision-making as needed.

  5.  Interim Guardianship - Appointed when there is an imminent or foreseeable risk of harm to the individual or their estate.


Alternatives to Guardianship


  1. Healthcare Proxy (HCP) - Appointed solely to make health care decisions for someone who cannot make them alone. HCP has the duty to act according to any known desires and in the best interest of the person they represent.

  2.  Representative Payee - Appointed to receive and manage the Social Security Benefits of a person with IDD who cannot manage or direct the management of their benefits.

  3.  Power of Attorney (POA) - Appointed to advocate on the behalf of and an individual to make decisions on medical and/or financial decisions. Unlike guardianship and other alternatives, a POA is given authority by the individual. The individual can sign a valid power of attorney document is they have the capacity to understand what the documents says.

  4. Special Needs Trust - Special needs trust, provide oversight and management of money held in the trust. A special needs trust ensures that the individual's resources are spent for their benefit.

Contact us if you have additional questions

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