Fairfax Estate Planning & Probate Attorney
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In Virginia, a guardian is a person appointed by a judge after a formal court proceeding who is charged with making all the personal, health issues, and non-financial decisions for an incapacitated individual.

A conservator is a person appointed by a judge after a formal court proceeding who is charged with taking control of and managing the estate and finances for an incapacitated individual.

When is a Guardianship or Conservatorship Needed?

A guardianship or conservatorship is needed in situations where a person is incapacitated and there is no power of attorney, healthcare power of attorney, or a trust-based plan to care for his or her needs.

When is someone considered incapacitated?                         

There are three main instances when someone is considered incapacitated:

  • A person may be born with a disability resulting in a need for some assistance in managing finances and making health care decision. In this case, a parent will need to seek a guardianship and possibly a conservatorship before that individual turns 18.
  • A person is struck by a tragedy. Everyone knows a friend, family member, or a neighbor who in the prime of his or her life suffered a stroke, was in a severe accident, or had a heart attack and the result was a persistent vegetative state.
  • A person is suffering with age-related ailments, such as dementia, stroke, or chronic illness and is unable to take care for him or herself. Many people wrongly think that because they have a will, that somehow, they have solved their legal needs.  However, wills only go into effect when someone dies and does not address the needs of the living.

How Does This Work?

In order to get a guardianship and conservatorship, a petition is filed asking the court to grant the necessary powers.

After the petition is filed, the clerk’s office appoints a guardian ad litem.  This is an attorney appointed by the court to protect the rights of the person for whom a guardianship or/and conservatorship is sought.

The guardian ad litem does this by meeting with the person prior to the formal hearing, explaining the process, assessing the situation, and then making a recommendation to the judge.  A guardian ad litem is needed even if the incapacitated person is in a persistent vegetative state.  Only an attorney certified by the courts can serve as a guardian ad litem.

In Fairfax County the process takes 3 to 4 weeks.  In Loudoun County they hold the hearing once a month.  In an emergency, it is possible to get the court to hear the matter on a different date.

How a Fairfax Attorney Can Help in the Courtroom

Rhonda is an experienced Fairfax attorney who represents clients seeking guardianship and/or conservatorship of individuals who cannot manage their personal and/or financial affairs.  She also assists family members in fulfilling the duties imposed by these new roles.

Rhonda is a skilled and zealous advocate in the courtroom.  She is also a sensitive and compassionate counselor committed to working through the myriad problems that arise during guardianship and/or conservatorship proceedings.

Contact Rhonda today if you have questions about guardianship and conservatorship issues.