In the Matter of the Guardianship of Mary Lou Renz, an Incapacitated Person

507 N.W.2d 76 (1993)

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In the Matter of the Guardianship of Mary Lou Renz, an Incapacitated Person

North Dakota Supreme Court
507 N.W.2d 76 (1993)

  • Written by Nicole Gray , JD

Facts

Mary Lou Renz (plaintiff) had a history of chronic alcohol abuse and unsuccessful treatment. Renz was hospitalized over 20 times in the 20 years following her husband’s death, before a state trial court found that she was unable to care for herself or manage her daily needs due to her alcoholism. At that time, a county public administrator was granted a limited guardianship over Renz’s financial and legal matters and full guardianship over her living arrangements. Under that guardianship, Renz was admitted to a state hospital. The state hospital recommended that Renz be admitted to a more structured treatment environment, which led to the county administrator seeking modification of Renz’s guardianship. A state trial court ultimately granted the administrator full authority over Renz’s place of residence, her financial matters, and her medical treatment. The court also granted the administrator limited authority over Renz’s legal matters, vocation, and education. Renz did not appeal the guardianship order nor its modification. However, three months after the modification was ordered and Renz had sobered up in the structured facility, Renz sought to terminate the guardianship when the administrator petitioned the trial court for authority to sell Renz’s home and car to pay for her treatment. The trial court denied Renz’s termination petition and granted authority for the administrator to liquidate Renz’s assets. The court based its decision on testimony from witnesses who testified to the unsanitary conditions of Renz’s home and Renz’s inability to care for her own needs even with services. The trial court concluded that it was unreasonable to believe that Renz would be able to live independently without the level of structure provided by the recommended facility. Renz appealed, arguing that she was no longer an incapacitated person due to her recent sobriety.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Levine, J.)

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