It is hard to see a loved one age. Sometimes, an older adult also has issues that make it hard for him or her to make decisions about important personal matters.
If you have a parent or other adult that you feel needs someone to help manage certain affairs, you may want to name a guardian. This person has a lot of responsibility, and it is good to know how the process works.
General information about guardianships
According to HealthinAging.org, guardianship comes into play when an adult, aging or not, is unable to make complex decisions due to an intellectual disability or cognitive impairment. This is a common situation when an individual is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s. If this person had not previously filled out a power of attorney or advance directive, it is up to the court to name a guardian to make certain decisions, such as those related to finances, healthcare or where the individual will live.
There are two types of guardianships: Unlimited and limited. With an unlimited guardianship, the judge gives the guardian the authority to make all decisions for the respondent. With limited guardianship, the judge limits the areas in which the guardian can make decisions.
The process of naming a guardian
According to Virginia’s Judicial System, the person filing a petition for the need for a guardian is the petitioner, while the one potentially needing a guardian is the respondent. The judge appoints a Guardian Ad Litem, who is a neutral third party that investigates the claims listed in the petition. The petitioner must schedule a hearing and present valid evidence of incapacitation. Based on the information, the judge makes a decision regarding guardianship.
If the judge allows the named guardian to make financial decisions, the guardian may need to pay a surety bond. This guarantees that there will be no mismanagement or misuse of the respondent’s property.