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Guardians in Nevada: Definition, process and purpose

Guardianship is not just for minors, but can also be used for adults that are unable to make competent decisions independently.

A guardianship is a big responsibility. Anyone that is taking on this role or has a loved one who is in need of guardian can benefit from a basic understanding of the laws that govern this process.

Guardianship is generally governed by state law. As such, the following information is intended to specifically address guardianships in Nevada.

What is a guardian?

A guardian is essentially defined by state law as an individual who is appointed to care for another. There are five main types of guardians: guardians of the person, guardians of the estate, guardians of the person and estate, guardians ad litem and special guardians.

The first three are pretty straightforward. Thy guardian of the person is tasked with ensuring an individual’s needs are met while the guardian of an estate is tasked with managing the estate. A guardian ad litem is generally appointed by the court and is an individual that is assigned during the transitory period of time while the court attempts to determine what is in the best interest of the individual that is in need of a guardian. A special guardian is one that is appointed to an individual of limited capacity. This means the individual can make competent decision independently some of the time.

How is guardianship established in Nevada?

The person receiving care is referred to as the ward. Guardianship can be requested by the ward, a government agency or any interested party. The petition, or request for guardianship, to the court must include items like the contact information of both parties, personal information like a social security number or driver’s license number along with a summary of reasons for the guardianship.

In cases where the ward is an adult, the petition must generally include a certificate signed by a physician explaining the need for the guardian. The ward may also provide written consent to guardianship in cases where the ward is deemed to have limited capacity to consent.

The petition should also include a general description and estimated value of the ward’s estate.

What powers are given to guardians over the ward?

Guardians are expected to perform all the necessary duties to meet the care, maintenance, education and support needs of the ward. This includes supplying food, clothing, shelter, medical, hygienic and other care as well as aiding in training and educating the ward when appropriate.

There are certain actions that a guardian is not allowed to take without first petitioning the court. For example, a guardian is generally not allowed to make adjustments to the last will and testament of the ward without court approval. This includes any attempt to change beneficiaries, create trusts or the closure of an asset. There are exceptions to this general rule. A guardian may, for example, use an asset if it is the only liquid asset available to cover the cost of care for the ward.

What if a guardian oversteps?

Legal remedies are present in situations where a guardian is suspected of failing to meet his or her expectations, overstepping or fraud. In these cases, it is wise to seek legal counsel. An experienced guardianship litigation attorney can review your options and discuss all legal remedies available, including using the law to remove an unfit guardian.