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Rights of individuals under guardianships

Senior citizens in Nevada who are unable to handle their own affairs due to health complications can be put under guardianships. This court-ordered designation allows family members, professional guardians or other qualified individuals to take over paying an elderly person's bills, arrange his or her doctor's visits, make sure he or she eats and handle any other critical services. However, there are some guardians who may abuse the situation and steal the senior's property, personal belongings and money, leaving them destitute and alone.

To address this problem, the Senate Judiciary has begun crafting a bill of rights for people who are being cared for under court-ordered guardianships. This document is the result of an 18-month-long examination conducted by a guardianship commission.

This bill of rights is intended to clarify that guardianships are not meant to eliminate the civil rights of those under them and ensure that seniors citizens are aware of their rights, including the right to vote, get married, agree to a domestic partnership, go to work and travel. Individuals who are under guardianships may also retain their driver's licenses if they are still able to drive safely.

The bill of rights for individuals who are under court-ordered guardianships is part of SB 360. If it passes and is signed by the governor, courtrooms and court websites across the state will clearly post the bill of rights.

A family law attorney may advise individuals about the proper types of guardianships that may be required for their incapacitated elderly loved ones. A lawyer can also help someone take the necessary steps toward becoming a legal guardian. If someone who has been designated as a guardian is abusing his or her position, an attorney may be able to suggest appropriate legal remedies.

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