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There are times when a minor or an incompetent person needs another to help assist them exercise their rights and to be responsible for their personal welfare and property management. In North Carolina, a Guardianship proceeding is a Special Proceeding with the Court. If the Court declares an individual to be legally incompetent a guardian is appointed to make decisions for the minor or incompetent person. When a person is deemed to be incompetent, then that person loses the right to manage their own affairs until it can be shown that the person’s competency has been restored (the Ward). The Guardian (The Principle) still must include the Ward in the decision-making process to the extent possible. There are different types of guardianships, guardian of the person, guardian of the estate, and a general guardian. A guardian has a fiduciary duty to acts for the benefit of another.

Guardianship differs from child custody. Children under the age of 18 are presumed to be incompetent by law, so there is no need for an incompetency proceeding before appointing a guardian. However, a hearing is required. A parent or other person may be appointed guardian of the estate of the minor. Typically, a guardian is put in place to make the day to day decisions of a minor child when the parents are unable to do so.