Virginia Beach Adult Guardianship Lawyer

Individuals with conditions that impede their ability to make sound decisions about their health, safety, and living conditions may need a guardian. While individuals with developmental disabilities often need a guardian to make decisions on their behalf due to lifelong incapacity, such incapacity may also occur as a result of a medical condition such as a stroke, traumatic brain injury, debilitating illness, or cognitive decline.

The prevalence of guardianship for seniors has become increasingly notable as the global population ages. This rise can be attributed to the growing number of elderly individuals who, due to age-related conditions such as dementia or other cognitive impairments, find themselves unable to manage their affairs independently. As life expectancies extend, the likelihood of encountering periods of diminished capacity increases, leading to a greater need for protective measures. In these situations, guardians are appointed to ensure the well-being and proper care of seniors, making critical decisions on their behalf. This legal intervention, while crucial for the protection of vulnerable seniors, also reflects broader societal challenges in addressing the needs of an aging population, emphasizing the importance of planning for incapacity and comprehensive elder care strategies.

The purpose of guardianship is to protect these vulnerable individuals by ensuring that their personal, medical, and financial needs are properly managed. The process of appointing a guardian involves a court proceeding where the need for guardianship is evaluated, and the suitability of the proposed guardian is assessed. Contact a Virginia Beach adult guardianship lawyer for compassionate guidance. Our elder law attorneys understand this process and how to help a family protect their loved one.

The Difference Between Guardianship and Conservatorship

Guardianship and conservatorship are both legal arrangements designed to assist individuals who are unable to manage their own affairs, but they differ in scope and focus.

Guardianship typically pertains to the personal and healthcare decisions of an individual, known as the ward. A guardian is appointed by the court to make decisions on behalf of the ward, such as those related to living arrangements, healthcare, and general welfare. This type of arrangement is often necessary when the ward has significant cognitive impairments, such as those caused by dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or developmental disabilities, that prevent them from making informed decisions about their own health and safety. The guardian acts in the best interests of the ward, ensuring that their basic needs are met and their quality of life is maintained.

Conservatorship, on the other hand, is primarily focused on financial and property matters. A conservator is responsible for managing the financial affairs of an individual who is unable to do so themselves due to incapacity or disability. This includes handling the individual’s assets, paying bills, managing investments, and overseeing any other financial responsibilities. Conservatorships are particularly crucial in situations where the individual has considerable assets that need management or protection, or when there is a risk of financial exploitation or mismanagement.

While both guardianships and conservatorships involve the appointment of someone to act on behalf of an individual who cannot manage their own affairs, they serve different and specific needs. It’s possible for the same person to be appointed both guardian and conservator for an individual, but courts can also appoint different people for each role, depending on the circumstances and expertise required. Both roles require the appointee to report to and be monitored by the court to ensure that they are acting in the best interests of the ward or conservatee.

Understanding the distinctions between these two legal tools is essential for ensuring that the right type of support and protection is provided, depending on the individual’s unique circumstances. An adult guardianship lawyer in Virginia Beach can help a family determine which option is best for their loved one’s needs.

Filing a Petition for Guardianship

The process begins with the filing of a petition for guardianship with the Circuit Court in the county or city where the respondent resides or is located. The petitioner (the person seeking to become the guardian) must provide detailed information about the condition of the respondent (the person for whom guardianship is sought) and why guardianship is necessary. This includes medical or psychological evaluations supporting the claim that the respondent is incapacitated and unable to make decisions for themselves.

The court will appoint a Guardian ad Litem (GAL), an independent attorney, to represent the best interests of the respondent. The GAL is responsible for meeting with the respondent, evaluating the circumstances, and making a recommendation to the court regarding the necessity of guardianship and the suitability of the proposed guardian.

Notice of the guardianship proceedings must be served to the respondent and certain family members or interested parties. This ensures that the respondent and others who might have a vested interest in their welfare are aware of the proceedings and have the opportunity to participate or object. A lawyer in Virginia Beach can guide a family through the adult guardianship filing process.

The Guardianship Court Hearing

The court ultimately decides whether appointing a guardian is appropriate. A hearing is held where the court considers the evidence presented, including the report from the GAL and any testimony from medical professionals, the petitioner, the respondent, and other witnesses. The respondent has the right to attend the hearing, be represented by an attorney, present evidence, and cross-examine witnesses.

Based on the evidence, the court will decide whether the respondent is indeed incapacitated and whether appointing a guardian is in their best interest. If the court determines that guardianship is necessary, it will appoint a guardian and outline the scope of the guardian’s authority. In evaluating incapacity, the court looks beyond the respondent’s poor judgment and must instead opine that the individual cannot process or evaluate information or respond appropriately to others, which endangers their health, safety, and ability to care for themselves unless a guardian is appointed to assist them.

It’s important to note that guardianship is a significant legal responsibility and a serious intervention into the respondent’s rights and autonomy. Because of this, Virginia law requires clear and convincing evidence of the need for guardianship. The process can be complex and may require the assistance of an attorney specialized in elder law or guardianship cases. A Virginia Beach lawyer can help a petitioner prove incapacity during an adult guardianship hearing.

A Virginia Beach Adult Guardianship Attorney Protects A Loved One

If you are concerned about the well-being of a loved one who may no longer be capable of making informed decisions due to age, illness, or incapacity, it’s crucial to consider the option of a guardianship and conservatorship. A Virginia Beach Adult Guardianship lawyer can help ensure your loved one is protected. Reach out to Parks Zeigler, PLLC, to discuss your needs.

Areas We Serve

With an office near Town Center, Virginia Beach and a second location beside the Chesapeake courthouse, our team provides quality legal representation across the entire Hampton Roads Area.

  • Virginia Beach
  • Hampton
  • Chesapeake
  • Newport News
  • Norfolk
  • Yorktown
  • Portsmouth
  • Accomack County
  • Suffolk
  • Northampton County

Parks Zeigler, PLLC – Attorneys At Law

Parks Zeigler, PLLC – Attorneys At Law N/a
4768 Euclid Road,
Suite 103

Virginia Beach, Virginia 23462
Map & Directions
524 Albemarle Drive,
Suite 200

Chesapeake, Virginia 23322
Map & Directions
200 N. Water Street,
Suite 2A

Elizabeth City, NC 27909
Map & Directions