Guardianship and conservatorship are legal tools used to protect the rights, safety, and interests of individuals unable to make decisions for themselves. That’s usually due to a disability or other incapacitating condition. An experienced attorney’s guidance can help you navigate the complex law behind guardianship and conservatorship, ensuring your loved one’s rights and interests are protected.
At our law firm in Hampton Roads, Virginia, we practice in the area of guardianship and conservatorship law. We understand that caring for a loved one with a disability can be an emotional and challenging experience, and we are dedicated to providing compassionate, expert guidance to help families navigate this journey.
For a consultation with a guardianship and conservatorship attorney, call Holcomb Law at (757) 656-1000 right away.
Guardianship in Virginia
Establishing guardianship or conservatorships, which are specialized legal choices that aim to safeguard the rights, safety, and interests of people who are not in the best position to manage their own medical, financial, or legal matters, is one of the major services we provide. When a guardianship and/or conservatorship is established, it indicates that a distinct trustworthy person will basically be “in charge” of managing the affairs of a vulnerable person. While they are sometimes acquired concurrently, guardianships and conservatorships are legally separate.
Guardianship is a legal method where a court designates an individual or entity to make decisions for an incapacitated person.
Conservatorship in Virginia
Conservatorship, on the other hand, is a legal method where a court designates an individual or entity to manage the financial matters of an incapacitated person. Or, to put it more plainly, the Guardian is responsible for the physical care of a loved one, where a Conservator is responsible for their assets.
Often, the same dependable party will be appointed as both a guardian and a conservator. Yet, in Virginia, the two jobs might be assigned to two distinct trustworthy individuals or entities.
The process of establishing guardianship or conservatorship can be complex and time-consuming, and it is important to have an experienced attorney on your side to guide you through the process. We work closely with our clients to understand their unique situations and provide guidance on the best course of action for their specific needs. The process doesn’t end with the appointment, and we continue to assist clients with the administration of the guardianship and conservatorship by counseling with care needs, drafting or reviewing mandatory filings, and answering the tough legal questions which arise throughout the process.
In addition to aiding in the establishing and administration of the guardianship or conservatorship, we also provide ongoing legal support to help families navigate the challenges of caring for a loved one with a disability and work with seasoned professionals to provide additional support. This includes assisting with the management of financial affairs, accessing public benefits, and developing comprehensive care plans that take into account the current and future needs of the individual.
One of the most important aspects of our work is to have frank and honest conversations with our clients about the options available to them. We believe that open communication is essential in helping families make informed decisions that best meet their loved one’s long-term care needs. By discussing the available options, we can help you identify the best course of action for your unique situation.
Determining an Individual’s Lack of “Legal Competence” in Virginia
You cannot just provide legal guardianship or conservatorship to anybody. In Virginia, for these agreements to take effect, the court must determine that an individual lacks “legal competence.” A hearing will be held to evaluate if your elderly or dependent loved one truly suffers from a disability recognized under state law. Fundamentally, a medical examination is required and a Guardian ad litem (or, often referred to as the GAL) will be appointed to assess the need for the appointment and the appropriateness of the person seeking to gain the appointment serving in the role. Essentially, the following major elements will be examined by the GAL and will be included in their report to the Court to provide insight into the person’s capacity:
- Their present cognitive capacity to accept, evaluate, and respond to new information.
- Their present capacity to comprehend and manage their surroundings; and
- Their present capacity to look after their own safety, health, and general well-being.
- The relationship between the party seeking appointment and the disabled individual.
- Any other available persons who can serve or methods to provide for the loved one.
Who May File a Guardianship Petition?
Any can petition to serve as a Guardian, but most often it is a close family relation or trusted friend. At times, specialized companies and non-profits will also be appointed to serve in these roles when the Court finds it to be most appropriate under the circumstances.
What is a Guardian’s responsibility?
The appointment of a guardian will restrict a protected person’s rights and privileges in respect of things like:
- Selecting a home
- Authorizing medical treatment
- Making decisions about the ward’s future
- Getting or maintaining a license to drive
- Possessing or carrying a firearm or other weapon
- Entering into contracts or legal action
- Marriage or divorce
Virginia’s Conservatorship of Estate or Property
While the estate or property is under conservatorship, the conservator is given the authority to handle the protected person’s money, including:
- Organizing, compiling, and safeguarding assets
- Arranging property evaluations
- Preventing loss of property and assets if feasible
- Controlling revenues coming from assets
- Making the necessary payments
- Obtaining judicial authorization prior to any sale of significant assets
- Impose yearly reporting and accounting to the state
How a Conservatorship and Guardianship is Obtained
It’s not always simple to get a guardianship or conservatorship. Virginia courts understand that entrusting someone to a guardian or conservator is a serious decision. By definition, when a guardianship or conservatorship is established, the ward is giving up all or part of their legal rights.
We can guide you and your family through the judicial process. Our Virginia guardianship and conservatorship attorneys at Holcomb Law will submit a court petition on the client’s behalf. The judge then selects a lawyer to represent the interests of the elderly or unsound individual (the GAL). The judge receives an evaluation from the doctor, the GAL report, and reviews the matter in a formal Court hearing.
After approval, the petitioner will meet with the probate clerk, where they will usually deposit a bond to safeguard the family member and their assets. The petitioner is then qualified as the legal guardian and/or conservator and given the authority to manage the care needs and financial concerns for the ward. A yearly report on the care of the individual is due to the state and an accounting of the income and spending must be filed with the Commissioner of Accounts.
How Our Virginia Conservatorship and Guardianship Attorneys May Help
Cases involving guardianship and conservatorship should always be handled with the utmost professionalism, care, compassion, and understanding. Our Virginia team at Holcomb Law has extensive expertise advocating on behalf of petitioners seeking a court order to establish guardianship and conservatorship. If you have inquiries about your situation, we make sure you have all the information you need to proceed with whichever course of action is most suitable for your family.
In conclusion, every scenario is unique. Our Virginia legal experts will take the time and pay close attention to every detail to fully comprehend the situation in your family. From there, we will develop a legal strategy centered on acting in your and your loved one’s best interests. Make a quick call to Holcomb Law to talk about coming up with the best solution.
Contact Holcomb Law Today
Our Virginia guardianship and conservatorship attorneys at Holcomb Law are here to assist you and your family with the legal procedure. On your behalf, we can file a guardianship and conservatorship petition. Our legal experts will offer you answers to any queries you may have regarding your rights or your choices.
Call us right now at (757) 656-1000 to arrange a completely private appointment with a skilled Virginia lawyer.