35A-1373. Appointment by petition of standby guardian; petition, notice, hearing, order.

(a) A petitioner shall commence a proceeding under this Article for the appointment of a standby guardian (i) in the case of a minor child, by filing a petition with the clerk of superior court of the county in which the minor child resides or is domiciled at the time of filing or (ii) in the case of an incompetent adult, by filing a petition with the clerk of superior court in the county where the guardianship is docketed. A petition filed by a guardian of the person or a general guardian of the minor child who was appointed under this Chapter shall be treated as a motion in the cause in the original guardianship, but the provisions of this section shall otherwise apply.

(b) A petition for the judicial appointment of a standby guardian shall:

(1) Identify the petitioner, the minor child or incompetent adult, the person designated to be the standby guardian, and the person designated to be the alternate standby guardian, if any;

(2) State that the authority of the standby guardian is to become effective upon the death of the petitioner, upon the incapacity of the petitioner, upon the debilitation of the petitioner with the consent of the petitioner, or upon the petitioner's signing of a written consent stating that the standby guardian's authority is in effect, whichever occurs first;

(3) State that the petitioner suffers from a progressively chronic illness or an irreversible fatal illness, and the basis for such a statement, such as the date and source of a medical diagnosis, without requiring the identification of the illness in question;

(4) State whether there are any lawsuits, in this or any other jurisdiction, involving the minor child or incompetent adult and, if so, identify the parties, the case numbers, and the states and counties where filed; and

(5) Be verified by the petitioner in front of a notary public or another person authorized to administer oaths.

(c) A copy of the petition and written notice of the time, date, and place set for a hearing shall be served upon any biological or adoptive parent of the minor child who is not a petitioner (if the petition concerns a minor child) or on such as would be required if the petition was filed as a motion in the cause under G.S. 35A-1207 (if the petition concerns an incompetent adult), and on any other person the clerk may direct, including the minor child or incompetent adult. If the petition concerns a minor child, service shall be made pursuant to Rule 4 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, unless the clerk directs otherwise. If the petition concerns an incompetent adult, service shall be made pursuant to Rule 5 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, unless the clerk directs otherwise. When service is made by the sheriff, the sheriff shall make such service without demanding his fees in advance. Parties may waive their right to notice of the hearing and the clerk may proceed to consider the petition upon determining that all necessary parties are before the court and agree to have the petition considered.

(d) If at or before the hearing any parent entitled to notice under subsection (c) of this section presents to the clerk a written claim for custody of the minor child, the clerk shall stay further proceedings under this Article pending the filing of a complaint for custody of the minor child under Chapter 50 of the General Statutes and, upon the filing of such a complaint, shall dismiss the petition. If no such complaint is filed within 30 days after the claim is presented, the clerk shall conduct a hearing and enter an order as provided for in this section.

(e) The petitioner's appearance at the hearing shall not be required if the petitioner is medically unable to appear, unless the clerk determines that the petitioner is able with reasonable accommodation to appear and that the interests of justice require that the petitioner be present at the hearing.

(f) At the hearing, the clerk shall receive evidence necessary to determine whether the requirements of this Article for the appointment of a standby guardian have been satisfied. If the clerk finds that the petitioner suffers from a progressive chronic illness or an irreversible fatal illness, that the best interests of the minor child or incompetent adult will be promoted by the appointment of a standby guardian of the person or general guardian, and that the standby guardian and the alternate standby guardian, if any, are fit to serve as guardian of the person or general guardian of the minor child or incompetent adult, the clerk shall enter an order appointing the standby guardian named in the petition as standby guardian of the person or standby general guardian of the minor child or incompetent adult and shall issue letters of appointment to the standby guardian. The order may also appoint the alternate standby guardian named in the petition as the alternate standby guardian of the person or alternate general guardian of the minor child or incompetent adult in the event that the person named as standby guardian is unwilling or unable to serve as standby guardian and shall provide that, upon a showing of that unwillingness or inability, letters of appointment will be issued to the alternate standby guardian.

(g) Letters of appointment issued pursuant to this section shall state that the authority of the standby guardian or alternate standby guardian of the person or the standby guardian or alternate standby general guardian is effective upon the receipt by the guardian of a determination of the death of the petitioner, upon receipt of a determination of the incapacity of the petitioner, upon receipt of a determination of the debilitation of the petitioner and the petitioner's consent, whichever occurs first, and shall also provide that the authority of the standby guardian may earlier become effective upon written consent of the petitioner pursuant to subsection (l) of this section.

(h) If at any time prior to the commencement of the authority of the standby guardian the clerk, upon motion of the petitioner or any person entitled to notice under subsection (c) of this section and after hearing, finds that the requirements of subsection (f) of this section are no longer satisfied, the clerk shall rescind the order.

(i) Where the order provides that the authority of the standby guardian is effective upon receipt of a determination of the death of the petitioner, the standby guardian's authority shall commence upon the standby guardian's receipt of proof of death of the petitioner such as a copy of a death certificate or a funeral home receipt. The standby guardian shall file the proof of death in the office of the clerk who entered the order within 90 days of the date of the petitioner's death or the standby guardian's authority may be rescinded by the clerk.

(j) Where the order provides that the authority of the standby guardian is effective upon receipt of a determination of the incapacity of the petitioner, the standby guardian's authority shall commence upon the standby guardian's receipt of a copy of the determination of incapacity made pursuant to G.S. 35A-1375. The standby guardian shall file a copy of the determination of incapacity in the office of the clerk who entered the order within 90 days of the date of the receipt of such determination, or the standby guardian's authority may be rescinded by the clerk.

(k) Where the order provides that the authority of the standby guardian is effective upon receipt of a determination of the debilitation of the petitioner, the standby guardian's authority shall commence upon the standby guardian's receipt of a copy of the determination of debilitation made pursuant to G.S. 35A-1375, as well as a written consent signed by the petitioner. The standby guardian shall file a copy of the determination of debilitation and the written consent in the office of the clerk who entered the order within 90 days of the date of the receipt of such determination, or the standby guardian's authority may be rescinded by the clerk.

(l) Notwithstanding subsections (i), (j), and (k) of this section, a standby guardian's authority shall commence upon the standby guardian's receipt of the petitioner's written consent to such commencement, signed by the petitioner in the presence of two witnesses who are at least 18 years of age, other than the standby guardian or the alternate standby guardian, who shall also sign the writing. Another person may sign the written consent on the petitioner's behalf and at the petitioner's direction if the petitioner is physically unable to do so, provided such consent is signed in the presence of the petitioner and the two witnesses. The standby guardian shall file the written consent in the office of the clerk who entered the order within 90 days of the date of such written consent, or the standby guardian's authority may be rescinded by the clerk.

(m) The petitioner may revoke a standby guardianship created under this section by executing a written revocation, filing it in the office of the clerk who entered the order, and promptly providing the standby guardian with a copy of the revocation.

(n) A person appointed standby guardian pursuant to this section may at any time before the commencement of the person's authority renounce the appointment by executing a written renunciation and filing it with the clerk who entered the order and promptly providing the petitioner with a copy of the renunciation. Upon the filing of a renunciation, the clerk shall issue letters of appointment to the alternate standby guardian, if any. (1995, c. 313, s. 1; 2015-205, s. 1.)