If there is an adult in your life who is currently having trouble making decisions about their own affairs, you may naturally want to take care of them. The legal system in Virginia allows both adult guardianships and conservatorships to provide you with the power to make decisions on your loved one’s behalf.
What are the differences between guardianships and conservatorships?
Although the words guardianships and conservatorships are used interchangeably, differences between the two exist. Guardianships involve the court appointing someone to be responsible for an incapacitated person’s personal affairs. In a conservatorship, a court appoints someone to manage financial and estate affairs for an incapacitated person. In some cases, the court may need to appoint powers of both guardianship and conservatorship.
What powers does the court grant a guardian or conservator?
Courts in Virginia can grant powers to conservators or adult guardians to make decisions about these tasks:
• Medical services
• Marriage or divorce
• Court records
• Social services
• Bills, taxes and insurance
What does the court require for a guardianship or conservatorship?
Courts require you to prove that your loved one no longer has the capacity to manage their own life. The process of establishing a conservatorship or guardianship involves the following steps:
• You petition the court with an argument about why the appointment is necessary.
• Court sends an investigator to interview your loved one.
• Investigator reports back to the court with an opinion on whether the appointment is necessary.
• Hearing takes place.
• You and other witnesses may offer testimony in court.
• Judge makes a decision about whether the appointment is necessary.
Guardianships and conservatorships can be long-term or short-term appointments
If you are seeking a conservatorship or guardianship for your loved one, you do not have to seek a life-long appointment. Both long-term and short-term appointments exist, and the length of the appointment can be tailored to your loved one’s specific needs.