When individuals aren’t able to make good decisions for themselves because of their situation or disabilities, they are at risk of being taken advantage of, abused, neglected or not receiving needed medical or other services. This is where guardianship comes in.
Guardianship is a court appointed relationship between a competent adult (guardian) and a person who is not able to handle his or her affairs (ward).
There’s no easy way to determine who needs a guardianship, which is why each person’s situation must be considered in the following way:
- Is the person able to understand his/her situation and communicate decisions in a way that demonstrates an understanding of the consequences?
- Is there an increased risk to health, safety or quality of life because of the decisions that he or she is making?
- Does a condition or situation exist that places him or her in imminent physical, emotional or financial danger?
- Are there other approaches, services or alternatives that will provide the necessary protection and support to the individual that are less restrictive than establishing a guardianship?
- What damaging effects can the establishment of a guardianship have?
- Will a guardianship provide relief and protection?
Types of Guardianship
North Dakota Century Code recognizes that a ward may need the protection of a guardian in all areas of there life, or only specific areas.
The following guardians make this possible:
- General Guardian: Responsible for decisions in all aspects of the ward’s life. This guardian assures that the ward has a place to live, food to eat, proper clothing and other necessities as well as medical treatment, schooling, vocational opportunities and other needed services.
- Limited Guardian: Given authority to make decisions only in specific areas of the ward’s life. The court’s orders or letters will identify these areas.
- Emergency Guardian: Appointed in situations where immediate action is required to prevent harm to the ward. An emergency guardianship cannot be in effect longer than 90 days.
- Testamentary Guardian: The guardian spouse or guardian parent of a person who has been adjudicated to be incapacitated may, by will, appoint a successor guardian for that person.
A guardian is required to act in and represent the best interests of a ward, and to protect the ward and his or her rights. They must ensure that services are provided in the most normalized and least restrictive means possible and are specifically tailored to the needs of the ward.
North Dakota Century Code requires a guardian to involve the ward in all decisions to the fullest extent possible, which the court will clearly define.
Unless specifically limited by order of the court, a ward retains: the right to vote; the right to seek to change marital status; and the right to obtain or retain a motor vehicle license.
Our services have one focus: meeting the guardianship needs of adults with intellectual disabilities.