When age or illness takes its toll on a loved one such that they can no longer care for themselves or their affairs, Harrison & Johnston works with family members to protect their health, well-being, and finances through establishing guardianships and conservatorships.
Protecting Those Who Can No Longer Protect Themselves
Time can take a toll on all of us. Things that were once routine can become impossible challenges if age, illness, or an unexpected tragedy renders an individual incapable of handling the affairs of life, such as caring for their own health or managing finances. Such individuals are vulnerable to inadvertent and disastrous mistakes as well as the bad intentions of others who may try to take advantage of their limitations.
In such cases, the Elder Law attorneys at Harrison & Johnston can help Shenandoah Valley families establish a guardianship or conservatorship for their loved one to protect their rights, well-being, and property. We are fiercely protective of individuals and families who face the emotional and practical difficulties involved when a once-vibrant and capable person can no longer handle things as they once did.
What is a Guardianship and a Conservatorship?
Virginia law provides families with mechanisms that they can use to protect a loved one who can no longer manage their health or financial affairs. This involves a court process through which a judge declares the person to be legally incapacitated and appoints an individual to protect their health and well-being (a guardian) and/or handle their assets and financial matters (a conservator).
A guardianship or conservatorship can bestow broad powers to the designated individual or be more limited in scope depending on the specifics of the person’s incapacity. Once the person assumes the responsibilities bestowed upon them by the court, they have legal obligations and fiduciary duties to act in the incapacitated individual's best interests, including providing the court with reports, updates, and accountings to ensure that they are doing their job as required.
Establishing Legal Incapacity
For obvious reasons, having some declared legally incapacitated and taking away their authority over their own life is not something that Virginia law and Virginia judges take lightly. Often, the person whose rights are in question will not be amenable to efforts to appoint a guardian or conservator, adding additional practical and emotional challenges to an already difficult situation.
Before a court will make a finding of incapacity, those seeking such a declaration need to provide compelling evidence and professional insights about the person’s condition and faculties that go beyond questionable judgment or poor decision-making.
How We Assist Families With Guardianships and Conservatorships
Harrison & Johnston’s guardianship and conservatorship attorneys understand that the decision to seek such assistance is not an easy one. With compassion, patience, and understanding, we guide clients through every aspect of these sensitive matters, ensuring that loved ones are protected and that guardians and conservators have the resources and knowledge they need to fulfill their essential role.
We provide full-service and comprehensive representation in all Virginia guardianship and conservatorship matters, including:
- Preparing and filing petitions
- Establishing incapacity
- Guardianship and conservatorship litigation
- Guardianship and conservatorship management
- Preparing accountings
- Investigating and addressing any misconduct or mismanagement
- Terminating guardianships and conservatorships