When there is a need for assistance with managing one’s care and/or finances, the law provides a mechanism whereby a guardian and/or conservator can be appointed to serve in these roles.
A guardian is an agent who is appointed by the court to make decisions concerning a person’s well-being. For instance, a guardian may make decisions concerning living arrangements such as: is there a need for 24-hour nursing care in a facility or can someone properly be cared for within the home of a family member. A conservator is an agent appointed by the court to manage finances and property. The authority of the guardian and conservator is defined by the specific order of appointment, which often times includes all of the power and duties established by the Code of Virginia.
In most cases, a Petition for Guardianship and Conservatorship is filed by a family member, but the Code of Virginia allows such a Petition to be filed by anyone. The Code requires the Petition to contain specified information and further requires that the subject of the Petition – the Respondent – be personally served and advised of certain rights. The Code of Virginia also requires that interested persons (spouse, adult children, parents and adult siblings) be given notice of the Petition and ultimate hearing date.
In many instances, the Petition is uncontested and a guardian and/or conservator can be appointed very quickly without the need for a trial on the merits. When the Petition is contested, there may be a variety of different reasons for the opposition. For example, the Respondent may oppose the Petition because the Respondent believes that no assistance is needed for the management of his care or finances. Sometimes the Petition is opposed because the Respondent already has documents in place to provide the Respondent with any assistance that may be needed for the management of his care and finances. The Petition may also be opposed based upon an objection to the proposed guardian or conservator.
As to guardianship matters, we represent Petitioners, Respondents and interested parties. If you are involved in a guardianship matter, or believe that a guardianship or conservatorship may be needed we would welcome the opportunity to speak with you about your specific matter in greater detail.