Dealing with an elderly parent or another loved one, such as a spouse, who has suddenly become incapacitated can bring various complications into your life. If you are a Virginia resident in this situation, you may need to petition for guardianship or a conservatorship for an adult who cannot take care of their own needs.
Petitioning for guardianship or conservatorship
Civil litigation requires those who want to acquire guardianship or conservatorship over another adult to go through a specific process. You cannot become a conservator or a guardian over another adult until you complete the entire legal process. In Virginia, you must follow these five steps:
- Prepare a petition filed with the Circuit Court Civil Division that seeks a conservatorship or guardianship for a person who you believe is incapacitated.
- Attend a hearing before a judge.
- Receive a ruling from a judge to determine whether the person in question is incapacitated and needs a conservator or a guardian.
- Seek a court order adjudging that the named person is incapacitated and naming you as the conservator or guardian.
- Make an appointment with the Clerk’s Probate Division to formally qualify as a conservator or guardian.
Navigating a difficult process
Obtaining a conservatorship or guardianship over another person can be difficult. For example, an elderly parent may fight the process as they believe they are still able to care for all of their needs. On the other hand, someone who has suffered a severe accident and is in a coma or unable to sufficiently communicate because of a severe brain injury may not be able to speak, making the process easier logistically but perhaps more difficult emotionally.
Every situation is different. However, getting the proper legal authorization to take care of your loved one is essential.