Guardianships & Conservatorships
When Is a Guardian Required?
In Virginia, a guardianship or conservatorship may be required in cases when the court finds that a person cannot manage his or her personal or financial affairs. People can often avoid the need for a guardian by establishing a Durable Power of Attorney, in which they choose the person that they want to act for them in the event that they become incapacitated. If there is no Power of Attorney and if the person does not have capacity to sign one, a guardianship may be necessary. Give us a call at (540) 838-2233 or contact us online to set up a consultation with Ryan L. Pry.
What Is a Guardian/Conservator?
In Virginia, a guardian typically oversees the physical wellbeing of the incapacitated individual. This includes the power to make medical decisions, hire caregivers, and place in assisted living or nursing homes when appropriate. Meanwhile, a conservator typically oversees the personal finances of the incapacitated individual, and includes the power to manage money, pay bills, and file taxes. The conservator files annual fiduciary accountings with the local Commissioner of Accounts, who ensures that the funds of the incapacitated individual are being handled properly.
How Is a Guardian/Conservator Appointed?
The appointment of a guardian or conservator typically begins with the filing of a petition in Circuit Court, setting forth the allegations regarding the incapacitated individual and proposing the appointment of someone to manage his or her affairs. The court will then typically appoint another attorney to serve as Guardian ad litem for the incapacitated individual, who will be responsible for evaluating the individual and reporting back to the court to ensure a guardianship and/or conservatorship are appropriate for the person. The court will typically schedule a hearing to take evidence regarding why guardianship and/or conservatorship are necessary, and if so, to appoint an individual into these roles.
Courts take these matters very seriously. If a person is found to be incapacitated, they inherently lose certain liberties, such as the authority to make their own medical decisions. Thus, the guardianship process is a solemn process that requires clear evidence that the person lacks the capacity to provide for his or her own safety and wellbeing, or manage his or her own financial affairs without the assistance of others.
Experienced Guardianship Attorney
Attorney Ryan L. Pry has successfully handled a variety of guardianship and conservatorship cases across Southwest Virginia. He always begins by evaluating the situation to ensure that guardianship is the best approach. If the situation can be resolved via Power of Attorney or Advance Medical Directive, we will do so. But if it is apparent that the person no longer has capacity to sign those instruments, then he will work with you to prepare the best plan for having someone appointed to fill these roles. After the court has determined that a guardian and/or conservator are necessary, our staff will prepare the necessary paperwork for the qualification of the guardian with the Clerk of Court. We are also available to assist with the preparation of the conservator’s fiduciary filings (inventory, accountings, etc.) with the Commissioner of Accounts.