Elder Law: Guardianship & Conservatorship
Northern Virginia Elder Law Attorney
Whether due to injury, illness, or age, there may come a time when a family member is no longer able to make decisions for themselves about their health care, living arrangements, or finances. Ideally, with a comprehensive estate plan in place, the necessary legal instruments and authorities have been established to allow trusted individuals to step in and make necessary decisions and otherwise handle the affairs of the incapacitated person. When these legal documents have not been put in place, it may be necessary to petition the court for the appointment of a guardian or conservator.
A guardian is a person appointed by the court to make decisions about health care and personal matters for an adult who is incapacitated. A conservator is a person appointed by the court to manage the money and property of someone who is mentally or financially incapable. The process begins when an attorney representing a family member or other concerned person files a petition with the court requesting the appointment of a guardian and/or conservator. Among other things, the petition must include facts showing that the person is incapacitated and that certain family members have been notified of the proceeding. The petition also usually proposes a specific person to serve as guardian and/or executor.