Virginia Guardianship and Conservatorship Lawyer
Caring for elderly or impaired family members is stressful and difficult. However, protecting your loved ones legally is also extremely important. If a person can no longer manage their financial affairs, their most trusted family members may need to obtain a guardianship and conservatorship in order to protect their health, safety, legal rights, and financial interests. These are complicated cases: You should always be ready to consult with an experienced legal professional.
At The Jackson Law Group, our Virginia guardianship and conservatorship lawyers are standing by, ready to help you and your family navigate the legal process. We can petition for a guardianship and conservatorship on your behalf. If you have any questions about your rights or your options, our legal team will get you answers. To schedule a strictly confidential consultation with an experienced Virginia attorney, please call us now or send us an email through our website.
Guardianship and Conservatorship: What You and Your Family Should Know
In Virginia, guardianships and conservatorships are specialized legal options designed to help protect the safety, rights, and interests of adults who are not in a best position to handle their own medical, financial, or legal affairs. When a guardianship and/or conservatorship is put in place, it means that another trusted party will essentially be “in charge” of handling the affairs of a vulnerable person. Although they are often obtained at the same time, guardianships and conservatorships are technically distinct. Here is the difference:
Guardianship: A legal guardian is in charge of managing the affairs of the ward (vulnerable person).
Conservatorship: A legal conservator is in charge of the financial situation of the ward.
Most often, the same trusted person will be assigned as both a guardian and a conservator. Though, in Virginia, the two roles could also be split to two different trusted people. If you need additional information on exactly how guardianship and conservatorships work in Virginia, we encourage you to reach out to our law firm for help.
How Do I Obtain A Conservatorship and Guardianship?
Obtaining a guardianship and/or a conservatorship is not necessarily easy. Virginia courts recognize that it is a big step to place someone in the care and trust of a guardian or conservator. By definition, the ward is losing out some of the legal rights when a guardianship and conservatorship is put in place. At the same time, the legal arrangements are sometimes necessary to protect elderly or vulnerable people.
We can help you and your family navigate the legal process. At The Jackson Law Group, our Virginia guardianship and conservatorship lawyers will file a petition with the court on the client’s behalf. Then, the judge appoints an attorney to represent the elderly or impaired person’s interests. A doctor files a report with the judge, and a hearing is usually held.
Once granted, the petitioner typically has to post a bond which protects the assets of the family member. So then a court order is entered, establishing the petitioner as the legal guardian and conservator, who can then handle financial matters. As a guardian and conservator, there are several required responsibilities including filing a yearly report on income and expenses with the Commissioner of Accounts.
What Does ‘Incapacity’ Mean In Virginia?
You cannot merely obtain a legal guardianship or conservatorship over just anybody. In Virginia, the court must establish that an adult lacks “legal competence” before these types or arrangements can take effect. There will be an hearing to determine if your elderly or vulnerable loved one is truly incapacitated based on the standards set up by state law. Essentially, a medical assessment must be made. Some of the key factors that will be considered when assessing a person’s capacity in a guardianship and conservatorship hearing include:
Their current cognitive ability to receive, assess, and respond to new information;
Their current ability to understand and navigate the surrounding environment; and
Their current ability to protect their own safety, well-being, and overall welfare.
Can We Use A Power of Attorney (POA) Instead Of A Guardianship?
It depends on the specific circumstances that you and your family are currently dealing with. A legal document called a power of attorney is a great option to name an agent to take action on a loved one’s behalf only if the person is still mentally competent and understands what he or she is signing.
You can learn more on how to obtain a power of attorney: Here.
However, if your loved one is already incapacitated under Virginia law, they will not have the legal authority to sign a power of attorney document. This means that in situations where the competency of a loved one is fading and health issues are severe, a court process is necessary to obtain guardianship and conservatorship.
How Our Virginia Guardianship and Conservatorship Lawyers Can Help
Guardianship and conservatorship cases should always be handled with care, compassion, sensitivity, and the highest degree of professional skill. At The Jackson Law Group, our Virginia estate planning and elder law team has significant experience drafting powers of attorney and representing petitioners in court, pursuing a court order to establish guardianship and conservatorship. If you have questions about your case, we make sure that you have all of the information needed to move forward with whatever option makes the most sense for your family.
The Bottom Line: Every situation is different. Our Virginia legal team will put in the time and attention to detail to understand exactly what is going on with your family. From there, we will devise a legal strategy focused on doing what is best for you and your vulnerable loved one. Call The Jackson Law Group immediately to discuss finding a solution that works for your family.
Call Our Virginia Guardianship and Conservatorship Attorney For Immediate Help
At The Jackson Law Group, our Virginia elder law attorneys have deep experience handling complex guardianship and conservatorship cases. No matter what you and your loved ones are currently working through, we will protect your rights and your interests. Contact us to arrange a fully confidential case evaluation. From our Hillsville office and our Wytheville office, we provide legal services to families throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.
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