What is legal guardianship of an adult in Virginia? | Ryan C. Young | Richmond, Virginia Guardianship Attorney

Guardianship Attorney | Richmond, Virginia

While most people focus on children when discussing legal guardianship, adults also should be part of the conversation. In Virginia, there are two types of Circuit Court appointments, both involving incapacitated adults. The Virginia Code specifies both “guardianship” and “conservatorship”.

Legal guardianship of an adult in Virginia depends on the official definitions of the terms. Understanding the legal definitions of terms per state laws is vital in learning the true meaning of the language used in jurisdictions. In Virginia these are the legal definitions in determining legal guardianship of an adult.

* “Adult” is anyone 18 years old or older.

* “Guardianship” is an individual appointed as a guardian pursuant to a court order issued at a guardianship proceeding.

* “Conservatorship” is a court order appointing someone to administer the property and financial affairs of an incapacitated adult.

* “Incapacitated person” is an adult requiring a court-appointed guardian (or conservator).

Before the court issues a legal guardianship order, it must determine that the subject individual is an “incapacitated person,” unable to make decisions regarding his/her care and/or financial affairs. Proving an individual to be incompetent involves submitting verifiable evidence of “specific disabilities” to the court.

Poor health or financial choices, along with strange or eccentric behavior, are not sufficient to motivate a judge to declare someone incompetent. However, the court’s evaluation prefers receipt of sworn statements from attending physicians, family and friends displaying specific reasons contributing to incompetency.

Guardianship in Virginia

In Virginia, guardians also make healthcare and other personal decisions on behalf of the incapacitated person.

Conservatorship in Virginia

Conservators oversee the finances and accounts of the incapacitated person. A conservator is necessary where an incapacitated person would be harmed if they did not have help managing their finances.

The Virginia Court might limit the scope of the guardianship.

A guardian and conservator may both be appointed in the same proceeding. There is no requirement that the guardian and the conservator be the same person.  A guardian or conservator’s authority may be all-inclusive or limited only to certain lifestyle decision areas. Guardianship orders may state multiple specific areas within a guardian’s authority, eliminating other responsibilities the adult does not require.

In all cases, get advice from a trusted, experienced Virginia attorney who is well acquainted with the state law involving competency, guardianship and conservatorship. Attorneys who are members of the Virginia bar and familiar with the guardianship process will help you and your incapacitated adult navigate the court system to have a successful proceeding on the adult’s behalf.

The process involves two components. First, the court must evaluate documentary evidence showing incompetency of the subject adult. Second, if the court determines the adult is an “incapacitated person,” it must appoint a guardian. The order places an ethical, moral and fiduciary responsibility on the guardian to act responsibly, always in the best interest of the adult, protecting his/her lifestyle and assets.

Ryan C. Young | Richmond, Virginia Attorney | Conservatorship and Guardianship Attorney

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