Virginia Guardianship and Conservatorship Attorney Helps Clients Take Care of Incapacitated Loved Ones
Lynchburg firm advises on the legal authority needed to handle personal and financial matters
Everyone hopes they are able to deal with their own legal matters and personal care as they age. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible. In fact, many times, people become unable to continue caring for themselves after developing a disease or simply growing older. When this happens, adult guardianship and conservatorship can be legal tools that allow others to step in and help. At The Bice Law Group in Lynchburg, I am an accomplished guardianship and conservatorship attorney in Virginia who helps caring individuals assume legal authority to protect those who are close to them.
What is the difference between conservatorship and guardianship?
In Virginia, when someone is deemed incapable of taking care of their own finances or physical needs, the circuit court will appoint another person to manage the individual’s personal and/or financial affairs. My firm counsels clients on issues relating to:
- Guardianship — Adult guardianship can be established if a person cannot effectively manage their daily tasks and personal care due to a mental or physical limitation.
- Conservatorship — If you’re concerned that someone close to you might not be able to make responsible decisions relating to money, you can seek appointment as a conservator.
- Legal standard — Establishing a guardianship or conservatorship is a serious matter. It is not enough for a petitioner to demonstrate that the individual in question is forgetful or even incapacitated in some way. To create a guardianship, the court must find that a person is not able to meet their essential needs. You need to show that a person is not capable of handling their financial affairs to establish conservatorship.
Having worked as a Lynchburg family law attorney since 1984, handling issues ranging from divorce to adoption, I have a thorough understanding of relevant laws and local courts, so you can count on me to offer knowledgeable counsel about your situation.
How do you become a legal guardian or conservator in Virginia?
When a person feels that a state resident is in need of a guardian, they can file a petition with the Virginia Circuit Court. Once the petition has been filed with the court, a guardian ad litem will be appointed to advise on whether the court should take action. At a hearing, evidence is presented in support of establishing guardianship. In these proceedings, the respondent has the right to be present and is entitled to notice about what is happening. Should the judge accept that intervention is warranted, the court will then appoint a conservator or guardian for the incapacitated individual.
What are the duties of a guardian and a conservator?
Guardians are required to keep track of their ward’s well-being and living arrangements. To ensure that these duties are being fulfilled, guardians are required to update the local Department of Social Services each year regarding the incapacitated person. If you are appointed as a conservator, you have a duty to safeguard the incapacitated person’s assets and make financial decisions that serve their best interests. Conservators must submit annual summaries to the state’s Commissioner of Accounts detailing transactions on the ward’s behalf.
How do I know if a family member or friend needs a guardian or conservator?
Adult guardianship serves a very real need when a person becomes unable to meet their physical and/or mental needs. However, it can be difficult to determine when legal steps are warranted. If you are considering guardianship or conservatorship for a family member or friend, consulting with an experienced Virginia family law attorney will help you make a sound decision. These matters should be treated with great sensitivity, and I can identify signs that might persuade the court that a grant of legal authority is necessary. My firm ensures that the process is respectful and makes every effort to see that the proposed ward receives the help they need.
What if the incapacitated person has a durable power of attorney?
Some people execute durable power of attorney documents that designate someone to handle key matters in the event of incapacity. Courts give great deference to these documents, so if you are looking to create a guardianship or conservatorship that conflicts with the instructions in the power of attorney, it could be an uphill battle.
Contact a Virginia attorney for a free consultation on guardianship or conservatorship
The Bice Law Group offers knowledgeable counsel to people who are considering establishing a Virginia guardianship or conservatorship. My office is located in Lynchburg. Please call 434-300-5043 or contact me online to set up a free consultation regarding your legal options.