Guardianship gives a person the legal right to care for and make decisions for another person, usually of a minor or an adult who is unable to make decisions for themselves, such as an elderly or disabled person. In addition to managing the care for this individual, known as a ward, a guardian also manages their finances. When the guardianship is of an adult, it is sometimes also called conservatorship.
Guardians are granted only those powers necessary to accomplish what the disabled or incapacitated person cannot accomplish independently. These powers may include:
• Assuring the availability and maintenance of care for the ward.
• Making financial decisions for the ward.
• Making medical decisions for the ward.
• Making sure that educational and medical services are maintained and adequate.
• Submitting updates to the court of the ward’s condition. These court updates describe the ward’s living situation, status of mental and physical health based upon medical examinations and official records, provide a list of services being received by the ward, describe services rendered by the guardian, account for the ward’s monetary assets, and any other information necessary to submit to the court in order for it to assess the status of the ward and the guardian’s duties.
Guardians aren’t expected to micromanage a ward’s life, since they’re not providing caretaking services. One way to think of it is as a provision of decision‑making services. Guardians step in when necessary to make decisions and give consent to things that the incapacited person doesn’t have the capability of doing on their own.
Normally, parents have the legal right to make decisions for their children, and adults have the legal right to make decisions for themselves. Sometimes this is not possible, and someone else needs to step in to take care of a child or an adult.
Guardianship of a child can be granted in the following situations:
• The child’s parents consent to guardianship.
• The parents’ rights are terminated.
• A court determines the child should be placed with a guardian.
It’s common for military parents to name guardians for their children so that if they are posted overseas, there is someone they trust who can care for their child in their absence. Parents also commonly name a guardian in their will so that, if they die leaving a minor child, they can indicate to the court their preference for a guardian.
A “general guardianship” may be needed over an adult if the adult is incapacitated, meaning the person is unable to take care of himself or herself due to mental illness, mental deficiency, disease, or mental incapacity. A “special guardianship” may be needed if the adult is of limited capacity, meaning the person can make some, but not all decisions necessary for his or her own care.
Guardianship of an adult can be granted when an adult is incapacitated and cannot make their own decisions. This could happen due to:
• Sudden illness.
• Chronic illness that gradually leads to incapacitation.
• A disabled person reaching adulthood and requiring ongoing care.
• An adult exhibiting behavior indicating he/she could cause harm to himself or others.
Types of Guardianship
There are three different types of guardianship in Nevada:
• Guardianship over the Person: this type of guardianship means the guardian is responsible for the well‑being and care of the protected person. The guardian will be able to make personal and medical decisions for the person, including healthcare decisions, decisions about where the person will live, and in the case of children, decisions regarding school.
• Guardianship over the Estate: this type of guardianship allows the guardian to make financial decisions for the person. Court approval is typically needed to spend or sell any of the person’s assets, even after a guardianship is granted.
• Guardianship over the Person and Estate: this type of guardianship allows the guardian to make personal, medical, and financial decisions for the protected person.
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