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What Is Guardianship?

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Making your own daily decisions becomes so effortless that you may not even consider the possibility of being unable to do so. An unexpected injury or decline in health may make previously simple decisions difficult or even impossible. It is important to execute a Durable Power of Attorney which designates someone to act on your behalf if you are unable to act for yourself. A Healthcare Directive or Living Trust may also allow someone to act on your behalf. If you do not have any of these documents in place, and cannot act for yourself, a guardian may need to be appointed by the court to act on your behalf.

Understanding guardianship

Guardianship is a legal relationship between a capable adult or entity (the guardian) and a person who has been declared legally incompetent (the ward). The guardian is responsible for supporting the rights of the ward and making decisions that are in the best interest of the ward. The clerk of superior court will assign a specific type of guardianship based upon the situation. The various aspects of the ward’s life for which the guardian is responsible depend on the type of guardianship. There are three types of guardians appointed by the clerk of superior court in North Carolina:

  • Guardian of the person – Cares for a ward’s personal and medical needs. A guardian of the person has no financial responsibility and cannot obtain information concerning a ward’s property.
  • Guardian of the estate – Cares for a ward’s financial affairs. A guardian of the estate must assume control of the ward’s property and make financial decisions in the ward’s best interest. The guardian of the estate must keep good records and give annual accountings to the clerk of superior court.
  • General guardian – Appointed to fulfill the duties of both a guardian of the person and a guardian of the estate.

Upon appointing a guardian for a ward, the clerk issues a document titled Letters of Appointment. This document authorizes the guardian to act on the ward’s behalf in order to lawfully fulfill their duties. The clerk of superior court is continuously involved in guardianship cases and how the guardian manages the ward’s affairs. Although this involvement provides oversight of court appointed guardians, it also makes the ward’s affairs a matter of public record.

Guardians of the estate and general guardians are required to take charge of a ward’s income and property, including deposit accounts. SECU offers guardianship accounts as a convenient way to manage the ward’s funds. A guardianship account is owned by the ward, but only the court-appointed guardian has access to the account to perform transactions and obtain account information. To open a guardianship account at the Credit Union, the ward must be eligible for membership.

For more information about a guardianship account at SECU, contact your local branch or (888) 732-8562.