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LawTalk, Attorney and Counselor at Law
Category: Family Law
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Experience:  30 years legal experience. I remain current in Family Law through regular continuing education.
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I have a 21 yr old son currently in involuntary admission at

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I have a 21 yr old son currently in involuntary admission at a psych hospital in NC. He is there for evaluation and med adjustment. This is his 7th admission in last 7 yrs. He seems unable at this time to make well thought out decisions for himself. Social workers are suggesting that we may want to get guardianship. We have filled out forms but are concerned about the future effects of doing this. We are being told that we can sign to start finding him supported living and help from Vocational Rehab to find him a job and also a case worker to help him all of which he has refused in the past (plus he will not take his meds as prescribed thus the need for supported living) He was in a supproted living for 1 yr at 18 and stabilized because they gave him meds daily but state closed the place down and we tried apt for 2 1/2 yrs...he has steadily gone downhill and refuses to work with social services. Due to his age (adult) we can not get info etc on medical/etc to help make decisions. We need help about guardenship vs conseratorship
Good morning,

I'm very sorry to hear of your dilemma.

Be very careful in deciding whether you want to be legally responsible for your son---either through a guardianship or a conservatorship---especially because he is non-compliant with his meds.

Once you are appointed by the court as his guardian----you take on certain legal obligations, as well as financial obligations, that you may not be physically, emotionally or financially prepared for. And it is a whole lot more difficult for you to get the court to allow you to relinquish control once you have it----because the court realizes that he then becomes the problem of the state.

Financial ruin is just one possible outcome for you. You can still help your son---if he is willing to allow you to do so---without the need for you to be legally appointed by the court. And if you are legally appointed and he resists, you will find yourself endlessly back in court seeking assistance, when the state system fails you.

You love your son, that is evident. However, you can do as much good without the burden of legal custody as you can with it.

Knowing the real risks, you must now make the decision---for all of you.

I wish you and your family the best in your futures.

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It has been suggested by an overly zealous colleague that I should mention that you won't have as much control over your son without a guardianship, as with one---and I presume that you know that. My intent was to suggest that you can still help him---but it will require that he consent to your help.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

I totally understand what you mean by the additional comment.

I also wondered if NC gives any protection to the guardian against legal/financial

issues. We were told my someone that we could have estate/person/general guardianship without being personally responsible.

We also began to realize that if we take responsibility and allow him home social services basically drops out of picture if he tells them to go away and he is our resposibility. We can not manage him any longer and are somewhat fearful of his threathening behavior. He also manipulates us due to our love for him. Causes GREAT conflict in our marriage in that I am tough love and my husband is NOT.

Good morning,

NC law neither requires that a Guardian become financially responsible for the ward, nor provide a home for them.

As a Guardian, you would be responsible to take part in planning for living arrangements for your son, as well as being responsible for seeing that he is cared for and has the training, education, employment, or other services that he might need. As Guardian, you will also be responsible for reporting to the court on the your son's status.

A Conservator is responsible for managing a ward’s assets, and if your son has no significant assets, a Conservatorship may be unnecessary.

I wish you and your family the best.


Customer: replied 6 years ago.

So does this mean that you are protected in NC against the consequences that you mentioned in your first comment? This is rather confusing...I had already realized that if we take responsibility the state goes out of picturesomewhat for us to others who are in more dire need. We are have had a problem finding the services Steve needs such as a supported living home without social services help to do so. There does not seem to be a way for parents of adults to step in due to the government privacy laws so we are FORCED to throw our son to the mercy of the "system" even though we would prefer to manage him ourselves with more personal knowledge of his needs.


I am sorry this is taking so long..on top of son's chaos our daughter had 1st baby at 6pm last night.

Good afternoon,

In NC a Guardianship will protect you from his financial obligations. However, as parents, you may feel obligated to support him and even take him in if no-one else will. You still have the dealings with the court and you will in all likelihood need an attorney to assist you in the process---it can get expensive, quickly. If he injures one of you, being relieved of Guardianship is not necesarily quick or easy. These are simply unknowns.

As the money available to the state continues to dwindle, you may find yourselves drawn deeper and deeper into the financial abyss associated with caring for you son. Maybe it won't happen that way---but once you sign on a Guardian, you may be there for a long time.

You are right. Your choice is to allow the state and federal systems to take charge---and lose control, or take charge yourselves with all the good, and the bad, that entails.

Congratulations on becoming grandparents! That's wonderful.


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