older woman comforting elderly motherAre you responsible for caring for an incapacitated loved one? A guardianship or conservatorship can give you the legal authority to make a wide range of important decisions on their behalf. Here's what you should know about Virginia guardianships and conservatorships, including how they differ and how the skilled attorneys with Cucinelli Geiger, PC can help you protect your loved one's best interests.

Differing Roles and Responsibilities

In Virginia, the roles and responsibilities of guardians differ from those of conservators in the following ways:

  • In a guardianship, the guardian is responsible for directing an incapacitated person's personal affairs. This means that they have the legal authority to make decisions regarding their ward's support, safety, health, treatment, education, living situation, etc.
  • In a conservatorship, the conservator is responsible for handling the conservatee's estate and finances. Duties may include paying bills, entering into (or rejecting) legal agreements or contracts, managing investments and insurance policies, and more.

When Guardians or Conservators Are Necessary

When an adult lacks the capacity to make important decisions for themselves or manage the daily activities of living, a guardianship or conservatorship can help provide for their needs and protect them from potential exploitation and abuse. However, before the court can appoint a guardian or conservator, you must first provide evidence that the individual in question is truly incapacitated. This involves showing that they aren't capable of effectively receiving and evaluating information or responding to people, environments, and events to the extent that they can't do one or both of the following:

  • Meet basic requirements for support, health, safety, care, or therapeutic needs without the help of a guardian
  • Manage their estate or financial matters, or provide for the support of dependents without a conservator's assistance

While exercising poor judgment can be a factor in showing that a family member lacks capacity, it usually isn't sufficient proof that a loved one is incapacitated.

Filling the Roles

If your loved one only needs assistance handling their personal affairs, a judge will appoint a guardian. Likewise, if they only need help directing their financial affairs, the judge will appoint a conservator. However, if the incapacitated individual requires assistance with both personal and financial matters, the judge may appoint a separate guardian and conservator or appoint one person to serve both roles. In some cases, multiple people may be appointed to serve as co-guardians or co-conservators.

When Guardianship or Conservatorship Duties End

Typically, a guardian's or conservator's duties end in response to one of the following events:

  • The ward or conservatee dies
  • The ward or conservatee has their capacity restored
  • The guardian or conservator resigns or is removed by the court

Helping You Become a Guardian or Conservator

Pursuing a guardianship or conservatorship for an incapacitated family member on your own can be costly, time-consuming, and emotionally challenging. Our attorneys can handle the process from start to finish to ensure that everything goes as quickly and as smoothly as possible. Our team can help you:

  • Explore less restrictive alternatives to guardianship and conservatorship, such as power of attorney documents
  • Gather the evidence necessary to prove your loved one's incapacity to the court
  • Complete guardianship or conservatorship legal forms
  • Prove you're capable of serving as a guardian or conservator for a loved one
  • Handle the administration of your duties

Schedule a Consultation

Trying to pursue a guardianship or conservatorship for an incapacitated loved one by yourself can be complicated and overwhelming, and there's far too much at stake to go it alone. Fortunately, you don't have to. At Cucinelli Geiger, PC, our caring and capable legal counselors can guide you through each and every step of the guardianship or conservatorship proceeding and even help you fulfill your duties in these roles. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a consultation to discuss your needs and goals.

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