In Nevada, courts can appoint a guardian to make decisions on another person’s behalf. The person with a guardian is called a “ward” or “protected person.” Nevada’s laws on guardianship are set forth in Chapter 159 of the Nevada Revised Statutes. NRS 159 sets forth three basic types of guardianships:
- “Guardians over the person.” These guardians make personal decisions for a ward;
- “Guardians over the estate.” These guardians make financial decisions about a ward’s assets; and
- “Guardians over the person and estate.” These guardians make both personal and financial decisions.1
To help you better understand Nevada guardianship laws, our Las Vegas family law attorneys provide general information on:
- 1. When does a court grant guardianship in Nevada?
- 2. Types of guardianships
- 3. “General” vs. “special” guardianships in Nevada
- 4. Who can be a guardian?
- 5. Who is disqualified from serving as a guardian in Nevada?
- 6. Can more than one person have guardianship over a ward?
- 7. Will the court ever make a stranger a guardian?
- 8. What is a Nevada guardian “ad litem”?
- 9. Procedure to get a guardianship in Nevada
- 10. How long do guardianship proceedings take?
- 11. Temporary guardianship
- 12. What are the duties of a guardian “over the person”?
- 13. What are the duties of a guardian “over the estate”?
- 14. Financial obligations of a guardian over the estate
- 15. Limits on a guardian’s powers
- 16. Are guardians entitled to a fee in Nevada?
- 17. When do guardianships end in Nevada?
- 18. How can a Las Vegas guardianship attorney help?
Nevada courts typically grant guardianships in two situations:
- When an adult is incapacitated (for instance, because of mental illness), called “adult guardianship”; or
- When a parent is unable to care for his or her children under 18.
Nevada law recognizes three basic types of guardians:
- “Guardians over the person.” These guardians are responsible for decisions involving the ward’s support, healthcare, and education.
- “Guardians over the estate.” These guardians are responsible for financial decisions involving the ward’s assets.
- “Guardians over the person and estate.” These guardians make both personal and financial decisions for the ward.2
One person can serve as both guardian of the person and guardian of the estate. Or different people can take each role.
Most guardianships in Nevada are “general” guardianships. A “general guardianship” is one that is expected to last indefinitely.
A court may also grant a “special guardianship of limited capacity.”
A “special guardianship” may be obtained if the adult can make some — but not all — decisions about their own care.
In this type of guardianship, the guardian makes only some decisions about the ward’s care.3
Guardians in Nevada must be adults at least 18 years of age.
If the ward is a minor child, the court will give preference to a relative.
If the ward is an adult, the ward’s choice for a guardian will receive preference. If the ward has not stated a preference, courts will give preference to a close relative.4
A court will usually not name someone a guardian if that person:
- Is unable to provide for the basic needs of the ward;
- Has habitually used alcohol or any controlled substance (other than medical marijuana) during the previous 6 months;
- Has been judicially determined to have committed abuse, neglect, exploitation, isolation or abandonment of another person;
- Has been convicted of a felony; or
- Has been disbarred or had a professional license suspended by the state of Nevada.5
In rare cases, Nevada law allows “co-guardianship.” In this type of guardianship, two or more co-guardians share the responsibilities for the ward.6
A Nevada court may appoint a public guardian when:
- It is an emergency, or
- A proposed ward has no suitable family member or friend to serve as guardian.7
A guardian “ad litem” is a special kind of guardian in Nevada. A guardian ad litem represents the ward’s interest in one or more lawsuits.
Courts most often appoint a guardian ad litem to represent:
- Children under 18, or
- Adults who are unable to represent their own interests due to an incapacity.
Common types of cases in which Nevada courts appoint guardians ad litem include:
- Custody disputes, and
- Child or adult abuse hearings.8
Would-be guardians must petition the court in the county where the proposed ward lives. The court will then hold a hearing to determine whether the guardianship would be in the ward’s best interests.9
The burden of proof is on the person filing the petition. Numerous conditions must be fulfilled. One is that no less restrictive form of intervention is available. Another is that the proposed guardian is qualified.
The court will conduct a hearing to consider the issues. Expert testimony from physicians, psychologists, and social workers may be needed.
Whether you are a petitioner or a proposed ward, an experienced Las Vegas family lawyer can make sure your rights are protected.
Las Vegas guardianship proceedings normally take 2-3 months. But in an emergency, a Nevada court can appoint a “temporary guardian” based on an expedited hearing.
To obtain temporary guardianship in Nevada, a petitioner must show that the proposed ward:
- Faces a substantial and immediate risk of financial loss or physical harm;
- Needs immediate medical attention; and
- Lacks the ability to respond to the loss, harm or need for medical attention.10
Example: Joanne’s uncle Ray has early onset dementia. He lives alone in the house he and his now-deceased wife share. Most of the time he can take care of himself. But sometimes he forgets to pay his bills.
During a streak of very cold weather, Joanne goes to check on Ray. She finds that his heat and electricity have been turned off. The house is freezing and Ray is ill. Ray refuses to leave, however.
Joanne goes to court and petitions for a temporary emergency guardianship of Ray. The court gives her temporary control over Ray’s finances and persons. Joanne gets Ray’s utilities turned back on and arranges for a nurse’s aide to live with him. Ray gradually recovers and is able to take care of himself again.
In a guardianship over the person, the guardian makes personal decisions that affect the ward. Such decisions can include:
- Supplying food, clothing, shelter and other necessaries;
- Authorizing appropriate medical and dental treatment; and
- Seeing that the ward receives an education.11
Note that a court that has jurisdiction of a trust may transfer supervision of the trust to another court, upon petition by a trustee or beneficiary, when the convenience of certain persons makes a transfer desirable. (NRS 164.130) Additionally, such a court may also transfer supervision of the trust to a district court having jurisdiction of the guardianship of a ward who is currently a beneficiary of the trust and is receiving or is entitled to receive distributions. (Nevada AB 254 (2017))
A guardian over the estate makes decisions about the ward’s finances and estate-planning. Such decisions can include managing the ward’s:
- Real and personal property,
- Stocks and bonds, and
- Other financial interests.
A guardian of the estate does not have absolute power to control the ward’s assets and finances. The guardian must get the court’s approval before spending the ward’s money or selling any property.
Guardians of the estate in Nevada have significant obligations. Some of these include:
- Posting a bond with the court to ensure against mishandling the ward’s funds;
- Placing the ward’s money in a “blocked account” that no one can access without a court order;
- Providing an inventory of the ward’s assets within 60 days; and
- Filing an annual accounting detailing the ward’s income, assets, and expenses.12
If the estate is worth less than $5,000, the court may waive the annual accounting. This is known as a Nevada “summary guardianship.”
Guardians in Nevada cannot do certain things without court approval. These include:
- Moving the ward out of Nevada;
- Placing the ward in a secured, long-term, residential care facility;
- Spending or investing the ward’s money;
- Selling the ward’s home or other real property;
- Obtaining potentially life-threatening medical treatment for the ward;
- Committing the ward to a psychiatric facility without an involuntary admission proceeding;
- Making or changing the ward’s will; or
- Terminating the guardianship.13
A guardian of the person is not entitled to a fee. The court may approve reimbursement of the guardian’s expenses such as room and board.
A guardian of the estate is entitled to a fee.
For more information, please consult with a knowledgeable Las Vegas family lawyer.
Guardianships over children usually last until the ward turns 18. But the court may extend the guardianship until the child finishes high school or turns 19 (whichever occurs first).14
Guardianships over adults last until:
- The ward dies, or
- The ward regains the ability to make his/her own decisions.
Both guardians and adult wards can request that courts terminate a guardianship earlier if it is no longer needed.15
Guardians have a great deal of power over wards. They also have significant legal obligations.
Courts may a guardian only when no less restrictive form of intervention is available. The burden of proof is on the person filing the petition for guardianship.
A Las Vegas family law attorney can help protect your rights whether you are a petitioner or a potential ward.
Need help with a guardianship in Las Vegas? Call us…
If you are considering guardianship in Las Vegas we invite you to contact our law firm for a free consultation and legal advice.
Our caring Las Vegas family lawyers work hard to protect the rights of wards, guardians and their loved ones.
Call us or complete the form on this page to speak to a lawyer.
- Nevada Supreme Court Guardianship Commission
- Clark County Guardianship Compliance Division
- Clark County Family Court
- Guardianship Forms in Nevada
- Power of Attorney Laws (NRS 162A)
- NRS 159.0487.
- NRS 159.0801.
- NRS 159.0613 (1).
- NRS 159.0613 (2) and (8).
- NRS 159.0613 (3).
- NRS 159.0613 (7).
- NRS 159.0455; NRS 159.095; Nevada AB 130 (2017)
- NRS 159.044. See also In re. Guardianship of Rubin, 137 Nev., Advance Opinion 27 (“NRS 159.044(2)(i)(1) provides that a petition for adult guardianship must include a certificate from a physician or a qualified individual demonstrating need for a guardianship. We conclude that this certificate is required for the district court to consider the petition but the certificate does not need to be based on an in-person examination of the proposed protected person. Furthermore, whether the petition and certificate warrant the need for a guardianship or further proceedings is within the sound discretion of the district court.”).
- NRS 159.052. See also NRS 159.047.
- NRS 159.079.
- NRS 159.065; NRS 159.081; NRS 159.083; NRS 159.085.
- NRS 159.078; NRS 159.079; NRS 159.0805.
- NRS 159.191.
- NRS 159.1905.