Public Guardian : FAQ

Why does the Public Guardian's Office exist?
The Clark County Public Guardian's Office is lawfully invested with the duty of taking care of individuals who are legally determined to be incapable of taking care of themselves. The office is court-appointed to this duty when no family members or friends are able, willing or appropriate to serve on behalf of the proposed individual who cannot function in his or her daily environment making proper health care or financial decisions, or performing basic self-care tasks such as feeding and bathing. This important public service is critical in assisting those with cognitive impairment. 

Not all clients of the Public Guardian's office are under guardianships.  The voluntary sixty and over Representative Payeeship Program assists individuals in managing their monthly income while maintaining their independence. This is not a legal process. It’s a public service offered to help people maintain independent lives.
What is our role?
In all cases, the role of a court-appointed guardian is to protect the individual under guardianship, look out for their best interests, and ensure the highest quality of care possible, given the individual’s health, as well as their personal and financial resources. By protecting the individual we minimize unnecessary loss to community services and vendors.
How are my finances handled?
Budgets are established based upon your monthly income and any assets available in your estate. Case managers are responsible for producing budgets and paying bills. The guardian is responsible for arranging to supply the individual with such necessities as food, clothing, shelter and incidentals.  The guardian is required to account for all income and expenditures through court accountings. 

In a General Guardianship, annual written accountings must be provided to the court if the value of the individual's assets exceeds $10,000 a year. In a Summary Guardianship, the court may dispense with annual accountings if the value of the guardianship does not exceed $10,000. In both cases, an accounting must be submitted to the court when a petition is filed to terminate or transfer guardianship.
What steps can I take now to ensure my care if I ever become incapacitated and need a guardian?
It’s wise to put your wishes down on paper in the form of a will or a trust long before an incapacitating event or condition occurs in your life.  Regardless of who your guardian is, the court will direct the guardian to follow your legal and written wishes as much as circumstances permit. 

Some important things you should consider in your will or estate plans:   

  • Talk to family members ahead of time about your wishes. Let them know who you’ve entrusted with guardianship responsibilities or named as the trustee for your estate. 
  • Hire an attorney to prepare a trust if you have a sizeable estate. By state law, your guardian is required to use your assets for your care, including bank accounts, stocks, bonds, automobiles, real estate, pensions, life insurance. These assets may be liquidated on your behalf to fund your care. 
  • Document through advanced directives your wishes regarding medical directives and life-support care. 
  • Document through advance directives your wishes regarding burial, cremation and funeral services. The location of pre-purchased burial plots and other preferences should also be documented. 
Can I live in my house if I become an individual under guardianship?
Yes, if the estate has the financial resources to accommodate independent living and if it is medically appropriate.  If you cannot live independently in your home, it’s likely your guardian will sell the home and use the proceeds for your care, while maintaining your residency in the least restrictive way possible.
What happens to any financial assets I have remaining in my estate after my death?
For estates valued at less than $100,000, the Public Guardian settles any outstanding bills or financial transactions on behalf of the individual. For every case within the Public Guardian’s Office where remaining funds and/or personal property are available for distribution to heirs, there must be an Order or other documentation in accordance with the State of Nevada Probate law to be provided to this office before any funds and/or personal property can be released.  If an estate is valued at more than $100,000, the case will go into probate for distribution of the individuals remaining assets.

It is recommended that an individual seek legal counsel or contact the Clark County Civil Law Self-Help Center at the following address or web-site to assist in determining the steps necessary for securing any distribution as appropriate:             

Regional Justice Center, 1st Floor
200 Lewis Avenue
Las Vegas, NV  89104

Sign up for Clark County Newsletters

Subscribe today to get your neighborhood news