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  • What Is Guardianship?

    Guardianship is a legal process designed to protect individuals who cannot care for themselves due to age, disability, or incapacity. This process involves appointing a trusted individual to make decisions on behalf of the person, known as the ward. This protection covers various aspects of life, including health care, financial matters, and daily living activities and is an important part of an estate plan. Guardians are appointed to make decisions in the best interests of the ward and provide support and protection.

    Who Can Be Appointed as a Guardian?

    A guardian can be a family member, friend, or a professional appointed by the court. Courts typically prefer family members or close friends, as they are more likely to act in the ward’s best interest due to their relationship. The court may appoint a professional guardian if no suitable individual is available. The guardian needs to be trustworthy, responsible, and capable of handling the responsibilities associated with the role.

    How Is Guardianship Established?

    The legal process for establishing guardianship starts when the concerned party files a petition with the court requesting guardianship. The court may then order an investigation to determine the necessity of guardianship. That investigation may involve interviews with the ward, the proposed guardian, and others.

    Next, a court hearing is held where evidence is presented, and the judge evaluates the necessity and appropriateness of the guardianship. If the judge finds guardianship necessary, they will issue an order appointing the guardian and outlining the scope of their responsibilities.

    What Are the Duties and Responsibilities of a Guardian?

    Guardians have various duties and responsibilities, such as:

    • Overseeing the ward’s daily needs, like food, shelter, and clothing.
    • Making healthcare decisions, including consenting to medical treatments and selecting healthcare providers.
    • Managing the ward’s financial affairs, paying bills, and protecting their financial stability.
    • Making legal decisions, such as signing legal documents and representing the ward in court.

    Guardians must act in the ward’s best interest and make decisions that prioritize their well-being and safety.

    What Are the Rights of the Ward?

    Wards retain rights under guardianship, including the right to be treated with dignity and respect. They should be involved in decision-making as much as possible, considering their abilities. Additionally, wards have the right to privacy in their personal and financial affairs. Guardians need to respect that and try to involve the ward in decisions affecting their lives.

    Can Guardianship Be Modified or Terminated?

    Guardianship may be terminated if the ward’s condition improves and they can care for themselves. The court may modify or terminate the guardianship if the guardian is found to be acting improperly or not in the ward’s best interest.

    Significant changes in circumstances, such as relocation or the guardian’s inability to continue in the role, may also lead to modification or termination. Modifications or terminations require court approval and a formal legal process to ensure the ward’s continued protection.

    What Legal Safeguards in Place for a Guardianship?

    Courts regularly review guardianships to ensure the guardians are appropriately fulfilling their duties. Guardians may be required to submit periodic reports detailing the ward’s condition and the guardian’s actions. Additionally, wards have the right to legal representation to protect their interests and advocate for their rights. These safeguards prevent abuse and ensure the guardian acts in the ward’s best interest.

    Contact a Skilled Virginia Beach Estate Lawyer at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC for Legal Guidance With Guardianship Matters

    Contact our skilled Virginia Beach estate lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC for comprehensive guidance and support with guardianship and estate planning. Submit our online form or call 757-LAW-0000 for more information. Located in Virginia Beach, we serve clients in Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton, Williamsburg, and Eastern Shore, Virginia.