When a minor doesn’t have a responsible parent to provide for them and when an adult loses the ability to make sound decisions, the court can appoint a guardian to protect their interests. There may be conflicts between relatives who disagree about who should be appointed that make emotions run high.
Even if there aren’t conflicting claims, the Nevada guardianship process is complex. Avoiding mistakes is important because mistakes cause delays, increase costs, and could lead to dismissal of the case.
Filing for Guardianship
Filing for guardianship requires accurate documentation and a good understanding of the specific requirements. The petition to the court must show details, such as a legally valid reason for the request.
Guardianship may be requested for the person, the estate, or the person and the estate. The person who has a guardian is the “protected person.”
Why You Would Seek Legal Guardianship
If you are caring for a child and you don’t have legal standing, providing everything the child needs is difficult. You can’t authorize medical procedures in an emergency. If the child needs to change schools because you don’t live in their district, you need legal standing. Guardianship provides the needed stability without the legal repercussions of adoption.
If you become aware that an adult has lost their capacity to handle their own affairs due to an illness, disease, or injury, becoming their guardian allows you to ensure they receive the proper care.
The law requires that relatives be notified even if they aren’t involved in the protected person’s life. Failure to serve all the parties who must be notified will delay the guardianship.
Numerous financial considerations are associated with guardianship. Guardians with responsibility for the protected person’s assets are required to obtain court approval to spend funds.
Detailed accounting records must be submitted to the court.
A child can qualify for financial assistance, and possibly Medicaid, even if the guardian’s income is above the poverty level.
Guardians must be competent adults whose reputation is not tarnished by a felony conviction or a bankruptcy during the past 7 years. Restrictions also prohibit anyone who:
- Lost a professional license to practice law or one associated with managing money, or
- Committed domestic violence involving a child, parent, spouse, or other adult
There are exceptions to the bankruptcy, domestic violence, and felony rules when there are no other options for guardianship if the court determines that the well-being of the protected person and the protected person’s assets can be preserved.
Rights & Responsibilities of a Guardian
The rights and responsibilities of a guardian are strict. A guardian who fails to perform their duties neglects required actions, mismanages the estate of the ward, or is found unsuitable for another reason can be removed.
Multiple Potential Guardians
Although two people can be co-guardians if they agree to the arrangement, guardianship petitions can be made by competing individuals. When that happens, the court will make the decision in a trial that considers a variety of factors including:
- A guardian named in the will of a deceased parent will be given preference.
- A guardian preferred by a living parent or a “protected person” who is over age 14 is given priority.
- Preference is given based on the closeness of the blood relationship to the child.
- Recommendations from Child Protective Services (CPS) are considered.
- Witnesses such as teachers and psychologists may be called if there is a trial.
Mistakes Can Be Costly
Hiring a guardianship attorney to help you navigate the Nevada guardianship process helps you avoid costly mistakes. If a mistake is made, anyone can object to your guardianship by filing a motion indicating your petition involved misconduct, misrepresentation, excusable neglect, fraud, or a mistake. The judge can set aside the order if the allegations are true.
For more than 30 years, Attorney Lee A. Drizin has practiced in the areas of estate planning, probate, trusts, guardianship and real estate matters representing clients throughout the state of Nevada.
Drizin Law is providing this information for educational purposes only. It should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion as to any specific facts or circumstances. This information is based on general principles of Nevada law at the time it was created and you should be aware laws frequently change. Moreover, the laws affecting you may differ depending on the circumstances. You should consult with a qualified attorney in your own state or jurisdiction concerning your particular situation. Review of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship.