Guardianships & Conservatorships

Virginia Guardianships & Conservatorships Attorneys

For some members of our society, legal protection may be necessary even after they have entered adulthood. These individuals may have been injured in an accident, continue to suffer from an incapacitating physical illness or psychological disorder, or have some other condition that prevents them from caring for themselves. In these cases, a guardianship may be established.

Roles and Responsibilities of Guardians in Virginia

Guardianship, also referred to as conservatorship in Virginia, is a legal arrangement that places an individual, also known as a ward or protected person, under the supervision of a guardian, or custodian.  

Understanding Different Types of Guardianship

There are two main types of guardianship: 

  1. Guardianship of the person
  2. Guardianship of the estate or property.

Eligibility and Process for Filing for Guardianship

A guardian is typically a family member, friend, or fiduciary appointed by the court. A protected person can be a minor without a parental guardian or an adult who can no longer make safe and sound decisions about his or her own person or property. Additionally, a person who is prone to fraud or undue external influence may be placed under guardianship for protection.

The Extent of a Guardian's Authority in Virginia

Appointment of a guardian can materially limit the rights and privileges of the protected individual in areas such as:

  • Choosing residence
  • Providing informed consent to medical treatment
  • Making end-of-life decisions
  • Making property transactions
  • Obtaining a driver’s license
  • Owning, possessing, or carrying a firearm or other weapon
  • Contracting or filing law suits
  • Marriage
  • Voting

Key Aspects of Conservatorship in Virginia

A conservatorship is a court-ordered legal arrangement in which an individual (called a conservator) is appointed by a judge to manage the financial affairs and/or daily life of someone (called a ward). The ward may be an adult with physical or mental disabilities, developmental disabilities, or other impairments that make it difficult for them to make decisions or manage their own affairs. 

The conservator is responsible for managing the ward's money, paying bills, and planning for long-term care. Conservatorships are designed to protect those who cannot take care of themselves and ensure that they receive the care and attention necessary to meet their needs. In some cases, a conservator may also have authority to oversee medical and educational decisions on behalf of the ward. Conservatorships are a powerful legal tool, so it is important to understand how they work before establishing one. 

Financial Management Under Conservatorship

A conservatorship of the estate or property empowers the conservator to make important financial decisions on behalf of the protected person, including:

  • Organizing, gathering and protecting assets
  • Arranging appraisals of property
  • Safeguarding property and assets from loss, whenever possible
  • Managing income from assets
  • Making appropriate payments
  • Obtaining court approval before any sale of major assets
  • Require reports and accountings to the court on an annual basis 

Contact the lawyers of J.S. Burton, P.L.C. at (888) 885-9001 for a consultation today with conservatorship attorneys near you.

Ensuring Due Process in Guardianship and Conservatorship

The law firm of J.S. Burton can represent you in court to obtain guardianship, conservatorship, or both. The firm has also successfully removed, changed, or transferred a conservatorship or guardianship in the Commonwealth of Virginia from one person to another or from another state.  We also can assist in helping you administrate and file the required annual paperwork before the clerk's office. 

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In order to safeguard the protected person’s right to due process, he or she is usually provided with notice and is entitled to attend all legal proceedings related to guardianship. In addition, the protected person may obtain representation by an attorney, present evidence, and confront and cross-examine all witnesses.

Consult with Our Experienced Virginia Guardianship Attorneys

If you are in need of a knowledgeable and compassionate Guardianship & Conservatorship Attorney in Virginia, contact J.S. Burton, PLC today. Schedule a consultation to discuss your unique situation, and let our experienced attorney guide you toward the best legal solutions for your family.

J.S. Burton, PLC understands the emotional and complex nature of guardianship and conservatorship matters. Our conservatorship lawyers are committed to providing compassionate legal support, guiding you through the legal process with empathy and dedication.

Ready to Discuss Your Guardianship Needs? Contact J.S. Burton, P.L.C. Today at (888) 885-9001 for a personalized consultation.

Guardianship of the Estate or Property

Guardianship of the estate or property empowers the guardian to make important financial decisions on behalf of the protected person, including:

  • Organizing, gathering and protecting assets
  • Arranging appraisals of property
  • Safeguarding property and assets from loss, whenever possible
  • Managing income from assets
  • Making appropriate payments
  • Obtaining court approval prior to any sale of major assets

The guardian may be required to report to the court about his or her activities on an annual basis.

Many guardianships in Virginia are temporary arrangements, meant to protect an incapacitated individual until he or she regains capacity.

Guardianship of Minors 

Guardianships may also be used to protect the legal rights of a minor. In the event that a parent is no longer able to act on behalf of his or her child, a guardian, usually a relative, is appointed. Unlike an adoption, under a guardianship, parents may remain responsible for supporting the child financially and they do not necessarily forfeit their parental rights.

A minor may be considered for legal guardianship if his or her parent cannot provide shelter, does not have a steady income, suffers from an illness, or is incarcerated. In most instances, parental approval is sought prior to any legal proceedings.

Guardianship Vs Custody

Guardianship and custody differ primarily in the concept of parentage and the degree of responsibility and authority an adult has over a minor.

A legal guardian is someone who is not a biological parent who has been granted the right to look after a minor on behalf of a court. Generally speaking, custody means providing care for one's own children. The granting of guardianship does not necessarily imply the revocation of a biological parent's custody.  

Contact the attorneys of J.S. Burton, P.L.C. at (888) 885-9001 for a consultation with guardianship lawyers near you today.

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    • What is estate planning?

      When someone passes away, his or her property must somehow pass to another person. In the United States, any competent adult has the right to choose the manner in which his or her assets are distributed after his or her passing. (The main exception to this general rule involves what is called a spousal right of election which disallows the complete disinheritance of a spouse in most states.) A proper estate plan also involves strategies to minimize potential estate taxes and settlement costs as well as to coordinate what would happen with your home, your investments, your business, your life insurance, your employee benefits (such as a 401K plan), and other property in the event of death or disability. On the personal side, a good estate plan should include directions to carry out your wishes regarding health care matters, so that if you ever are unable to give the directions yourself, someone you know and trust can do that for you.

    • How do I name a guardian for my children?
      If you have children under the age of eighteen, you should designate a person or persons to be appointed guardian(s) over their person and property. Of course, if a surviving parent lives with the minor children (and has custody over them), he or she automatically continues to remain their sole guardian. This is true despite the fact that others may be named as the guardian in your estate planning documents. You should name at least one alternate guardian in case the primary guardian cannot serve or is not appointed by the court.
    • When should a Special Needs Trust be established?
      Generally, a Special Needs Trust should be established no later than the beneficiary’s 65th birthday. If you have a disabled or chronically ill beneficiary, you may want to consider establishing the Special Needs Trust at an early age.  One benefit of having the Trust in place is that if the disabled beneficiary becomes the recipient of funds such as gifts, bequests or a settlement from a lawsuit, they can immediately be transferred to the Special Needs Trust without affecting that individual’s eligibility for government benefits.
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      A living will or advance medical directive informs others of your preferred medical treatment should you become permanently unconscious, terminally ill, or otherwise unable to make or communicate decisions regarding treatment.  In conjunction with other estate planning tools, it can bring peace of mind and security while avoiding unnecessary expense and delay in the event of future incapacity.