What is a Guardianship of an Adult?
A guardianship of an adult is a court process where a North Dakota state district court judge or judicial referee decides that an adult (18 years or older) is incapacitated to the point they’re unable to care for themselves responsibly or their incapacity endangers their health or safety.
If the judge or judicial referee decides, based on the evidence presented, that the adult is incapacitated, a guardian is appointed to make medical, legal, residential, educational, vocational, and some financial decisions for the adult. After a guardian is appointed, the adult is referred to as the Ward.
There are three types of guardianships of adults:
- Emergency guardianship, which can last no more than 90 days. An emergency guardianship can be either full or limited.
- Full guardianship, which lasts until the guardianship is no longer necessary. Full guardianship gives the guardian authority to make all personal decisions for the Ward.
- Limited guardianship, which lasts until the guardianship is no longer necessary. Limited guardianship allows the Ward to make the personal decisions they remain able to make, so the guardian only has authority to make personal decisions in areas the Ward is unable.
Less Restrictive Options to Guardianship of an Adult
The appointment of a guardian severely limits or completely removes the right of an adult or make their own personal decisions. Before petitioning for guardianship, consider other, less restrictive options.
Less restrictive options to guardianship of an adult include, but aren’t limited to, the following:
- North Dakota Protection and Advocacy Project
- North Dakota Department of Human Services, Adults and Aging Services Division
- Power of Attorney
- Health Care Directive
- Representative Payee
North Dakota Guardian Establishment Program **Apply BEFORE Petitioning for a Guardianship
The North Dakota Department of Health and Human Services operates the Guardianship Establishment Program. This is a state-funded program that can provide financial assistance to people who are petitioning for guardianship of an incapacitated adult. You MUST complete the application BEFORE petitioning the Court for guardianship.
Adult & Aging Services Program
The application for this program is found here. You may contact the Adult & Aging Services Guardianship Establishment Program at (701) 328-4613 and firstname.lastname@example.org. (See Guardianship Establishment Funds Protocol.)
Developmental Disabilities Program
The application for this program is found here. You may contact the Developmental Disabilities Guardianship Establishment Program at (701) 328-8930 or email@example.com. (See DD Guardianship Establishment Funds Protocol.)
The application MUST be submitted to the North Dakota Department of Health and Human Services. The address is located on the last page of the application. DON’T file the application with a North Dakota state district court. The court can’t take your application.
North Dakota Court System Informational Videos
Videos are available on topics such as Adult Guardianship Training, Mental Health Decision Making, Alternatives to Guardianship, and New Guardian Duties.
Go to guardianship.ndcourts.gov to watch the videos.
Some of the trainings require you to create a login and password so you’ll receive a participation certificate.
Guardian Responsibilities, Qualifications and Training Requirements, and Payment Information
Learn how to identify when a guardianship is necessary, the qualification and training requirements for a guardian of an adult, the responsibilities of a guardian, and when a guardian may be paid for their services.
Requests Related to Attending Guardianship Hearings
Before a North Dakota state district court can appoint a guardian, at least one court hearings is required. After a guardian is appointed, more court hearings may be necessary, depending on the requirements of each individual guardianship.
Generally, the guardian, or guardians, and the adult subject to the guardianship are all required to attend guardianship hearings in person at the courthouse.
However, the guardian, or the person requesting to become the guardian, may use the following form sets to ask to have the hearing held by reliable electronic means instead of in person, to have any of the parties attend the in person hearing remotely, to hold the hearing somewhere other than the courthouse, or to allow the adult subject to the guardianship not to attend the hearing at all.
- Request to Hold the Hearing by Reliable Electronic Means or to Attend the Hearing
- Request to Hold the Hearing at an Alternate Location (i.e. Nursing Home) or to Allow Non-Attendance at the Hearing
Emergency Adult Guardianship
A North Dakota state district court may appoint an emergency guardian of an adult if the court finds that using the non-emergency guardianship appointment process is likely to result in substantial harm to the adult’s health, safety, or welfare, and that no other person appears to have authority and willingness to act in the circumstances. Emergency guardianships can last no more than 90 days.
If the emergency relates to mental illness or substance abuse issues, you may wish to review the information on the Mental Health Commitment process. Please note that a state’s attorney or a private attorney must approve the mental health commitment petition before the petition can be filed with the court.
Emergency Adult Guardianship (Appointment of emergency guardian AFTER required court hearing)
Ex-Parte Emergency Adult Guardianship (Appointment of emergency guardian BEFORE required court hearing)
Establishing Adult Guardianship
Any person interested in the welfare of an allegedly incapacitated adult may petition for the appointment of a guardian. These forms and instructions cover the basic procedure for petitioning a North Dakota state district court to establish a guardianship over an adult.
- Instructions for Establishing Adult Guardianship
- Notice of Hearing and Statement of Rights
- Petition for Appointment of a Guardian
- Confidential Information Form
- Order for Appointment of Guardian Ad Litem
- Guardian Ad Litem's Report
- Order Appointing a Visitor
- Report of a Visitor
- Order Appointing an Expert Examiner
- Report of Expert Examiner
- Findings of Fact and Order Appointing Guardian/Co-Guardians
- Letters of Guardianship
- Service Instructions and Forms for Establishing Adult Guardianship
After Adult Guardianships are Established
Following are a variety of forms and instructions for many common requirements and requests that occur after a North Dakota state district court has established a guardianship and appointed a guardian.
- Beginning Inventory Report and Instructions
- Annual Report (with Notice to Ward & Interested Parties) and Instructions
- Final Report and Accounting and Instructions
- Notice and Motion to Allow Payment of Room and Board
- Notice and Motion to Approve Payment of Guardian's Fees (Hourly Rate)
- Notice and Motion for Authorization to Sell Ward’s Personal Property
- Objection to Motion and Notice of Hearing
- Order on Motion for Authorization to Sell Ward’s Personal Property (No Hearing)
- Order on Motion for Authorization to Sell Ward’s Personal Property (Hearing Held)
- Notice and Motion for Authorization to Sell Ward’s Real Property
- Objection to Motion and Notice of Hearing
- Order on Motion for Authorization to Sell Ward’s Real Property (No Hearing)
- Order on Motion for Authorization to Sell Ward’s Real Property (Hearing Held)
- Notice and Motion for Appointment of Successor Guardian
- Order Appointing Successor Guardian
- Letters of Guardianship (Successor Guardian)
- Notice and Motion for Appointment of Co-Guardian
- Ward’s Answer to Motion for Appointment of Co-Guardian
- Notice and Motion for Change of Venue
- Order for Change of Venue
- Notice and Motion to Remove Visitation (Etc) Restrictions
- Answer to Motion to Remove Visitation (Etc) Restrictions
- Order on Motion to Remove Visitation (Etc) Restrictions
- Petition for Termination of Guardianship - Death of Ward
- Order Confirming Termination of Guardianship - Death of Ward
- Petition for Termination of Guardianship and Discharge of Guardian
- Order Terminating Guardianship and Discharging Guardian
Adult Guardianship 5-year Reviews
Guardianships of adults must be reviewed every 5 years by the North Dakota State District Court. The Court holds a hearing to decide whether the guardianship remains in place without changes, remains in place with changes, or terminates (ends).
- Guardianship Review Hearings Frequently Asked Questions
- Order of Reappointment of Continuation of Guardianship (Est. Before 7/31/2015)
- Order of Reappointment and Continuation of Guardianship (Est. After 7/31/2015)
- Letters of Guardianship (Reappointment and Continuation of Guardianship)
- Order of Termination of Guardianship
- Finding of Fact and Order Appointing Successor Guardian Following Review
- Letters of Guardianship (Guardianship Continued with Successor Guardian)
- Transfer a North Dakota Guardianship or Conservatorship of an Adult to Another State
- Transfer Another State’s Guardianship or Conservatorship of an Adult to North Dakota
General-Use Checklists and Forms
Forms aren’t available for every legal issue, circumstance, or procedure in guardianship of adult cases. If you don’t find a form on this webpage, the form isn’t available through the North Dakota Legal Self Help Center.
If a form isn’t available and you need to create your own legal documents, you may find the following general-use checklists and forms useful as a starting point.
Selected Statutes (Laws) & Rules
Following are legal research starting points related to adult guardianships. You may need to conduct additional legal research into your legal issue. See the Legal Research Section of this website.
- Chapter 28-35 of the North Dakota Century Code
- Chapter 30.1-01 of the North Dakota Century Code
- Chapter 30.1-26 of the North Dakota Century Code
- Chapter 30.1-28 of the North Dakota Century Code
- The North Dakota Rules of Civil Procedure
- The North Dakota Rules of Evidence
- The North Dakota Rules of Court
Following are other resources related to adult guardianship proceedings that may be of interest.
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If you have a question relating to a case that is already filed please contact the clerk of court for the county.