Duties of a Guardian in Virginia Beach

When adults become incapacitated, or when children with significant disabilities become adults, a court may appoint a guardian for them. The guardian manages the day-to-day aspects of the incapacitated person’s life that they are not able to manage for themselves.

If you are considering asking for a guardian for a loved one, if family members think you should have a guardian, or if you wish to be appointed someone’s guardian, contact Parks Zeigler, PLLC. Our attorneys can explain the duties of a guardian in Virginia Beach and explain the legal options in your specific situation.

How Is a Guardian Appointed?

A court must establish a guardianship. A concerned person must petition the court to appoint a responsible adult to be the guardian of an allegedly incapacitated person. The person who is alleged to need a guardian and their spouse, adult children, parents, and adult siblings (or if a person does not have any of these, three of their other adult family members) will receive notice of the petition and have the opportunity to contest it. A Virginia Beach attorney can represent either a petitioner (the person who wants a guardian to be appointed) or the respondent (the person who is allegedly incapacitated) in a guardianship proceeding.

The court will appoint a Guardian ad Litem (GAL), who is an attorney, to interview the allegedly incapacitated person and decide whether they need the protection of a guardian. The GAL will submit a report to the court with their recommendation. The petitioner will typically include a report from a medical doctor in their evidence, but a court could order a medical examination if warranted.

The judge will appoint a guardian if they are convinced the person requires one. The guardian’s specific duties will be described in the appointment. Judges typically draw the guardian’s authority narrowly to allow the incapacitated person—the ward—as much autonomy as possible.

A Guardian’s Responsibilities

Generally, guardians in Virginia Beach are responsible for the personal well-being of the ward. They make decisions about the ward’s day-to-day life, medical care, housing, and social activities. The person who manages the ward’s financial affairs is called the conservator, but sometimes the guardian and conservator are the same person.

A guardian holds a position of trust. They have the legal obligation to work for the ward’s best interests. They also must respect the ward’s opinion and allow them as much input into decisions as is reasonable given their incapacity. However, when the guardian has authority over an issue, the guardian’s decision prevails.

The guardian should also consult frequently with others, such as caregivers or staff at a residential facility, to stay informed of the ward’s condition and current needs. Doing so is especially important if the ward cannot communicate effectively.

Accountability for Guardians

Virginia Code § 64.2-2020 requires a guardian to submit a written report to the local department of social services one year after their appointment and every year, annually, after that. An attorney in Virginia Beach can advise and assist a guardian in preparing and submitting their reports.

The court can also require annual hearings, one year after the order of appointment, then every three years thereafter. The guardian must attend the hearing to tell the court how they are fulfilling their duties, how the ward is faring, and discuss the ward’s current needs. The court will appoint a GAL to visit the ward and determine whether their current needs are being met and whether anticipated future needs might require a change in the guardianship orders.

Additionally, the court has the authority to terminate the guardianship upon evidence that the ward has regained the capacity to act for themselves. Any person could petition the court to remove a guardian if they are not fulfilling their duties, or the court could decide on its own to replace a guardian.

Consult a Virginia Beach Attorney About Guardianship Questions

It can be devastating when you have a loved one who has lost their capacity to care for themselves. Establishing a guardianship ensures they are protected.

If you believe your loved one needs a guardian or if you have been appointed a guardian, understanding the duties of a guardian in Virginia Beach is critical. The attorneys at Parks Zeigler, PLLC can answer your questions and provide caring guidance. Reach out today.

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