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  • John C. Whitbeck, Jr.

    Partner

    John C. Whitbeck, Jr. practices in the following areas of law: Family Law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Mediation, Arbitration, Relocation Cases, Domestic Violence, Criminal Law, DUI/DWI, Reckless Driving, All Felonies, All Misdemeanors, Juvenile Crimes, Mental Health Law, Civil and Business Litigation, Construction Litigation, Education Law, Election Law, Debt Collection, Consumer and Lemon Law.

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  • Ruth M. McElroy

    Partner

    Ruth M. McElroy practices in the following areas of law: Family law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Relocation Cases, Pre and Post Marital Agreements, Domestic Violence, Reckless Driving, DUI/DWI, Juvenile Crimes, Felony and Misdemeanor Crimes, Traffic Offenses, Debt Collection, Civil and Business Litigation. She serves the Virginia Court system as a Guardian ad litem.

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  • Jennifer D. Cisneros

    Partner

    Jennifer D. Cisneros practices in the following areas of law: Family law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Relocation Cases, Domestic Violence, Juvenile Crimes, Reckless Driving, DUI/DWI, Estate Planning, Wills and Probate, Trusts, Civil and Business Litigation and Debt Collection.

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Potential Concerns with Virginia Guardianships

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A guardianship is when you appoint someone to assume legal responsibility for certain situations or tasks depending on the nature of the situation. The appointment of a guardian is typically done in the court system, but there are still potential concerns that can arise down the line that might lead to a lawsuit against the guardian.

What is a Guardian?

A guardian is appointed to make decisions on behalf of someone who is incapacitated, who is known as the “ward.” The usual start to a guardianship process is when a family member or social worker lets the court know that someone is unable to take care of themselves. Then the court will look to appoint someone as a guardian, typically a family member. However, if the family cannot reach a consensus on a guardian, or there is no family to act as a guardian, the court will look to appoint someone else, known as a public guardian, who is supposed to be a neutral party who should be looking out for the ward’s best interests.

Potential Problems with Guardianships

One of the problems in multiple states is a lack of adequately trained guardians. Guardians who are not trained or committed to the position may not take their charge of the ward seriously, which can result in complaints of abuse. Trusting a public guardian over someone’s finances and property (typically a conservatorship) can be scary. Fees for the service may be deducted directly from the person’s bank account, and in the case of an elderly person, that can lead to temptation.

When there is abuse and neglect, there is the potential for a contested guardianship. This is when the person under the guardianship objects and challenges it because the guardian is not performing their duties adequately. Pursuing a contested guardianship should be done under the guidance of a skilled Virginia family law attorney.

Some seniors who land in the system find it difficult to get out from under a guardian they do not know. This has led to reform in some states as public guardians need to be held accountable for abuse and failure to act in their ward’s best interests. Nationwide reform is also being considered, which is much needed to ensure that wards are fully protected in these situations.

Another potential pitfall is when a guardianship is not individually tailored for the specific needs of the ward. Each case is different, and each person’s needs will vary. If someone starts showing capability to handle certain aspects of their life, like healthcare, should they be able to start assuming more responsibility as they improve?

If you are concerned about the welfare of a family member you may wish to apply to be the guardian and conservator.  In Virginia an attorney would file a petition on your behalf seeking guardianship over an individual that is not capable of making care or financial decisions on their own.

Contact a Virginia Family Law Attorney Today

If you have questions about how guardianships work or need assistance with a family member, it’s important to speak with a knowledgeable Leesburg family attorney. If a ward is suffering due to an issue with his or her guardian, you may need to contest the situation. You definitely need an experienced attorney to help with this process. Contact Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy PC today to schedule an initial consultation. Let our team of attorneys help with all your family law needs.

Resource:

forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2016/05/24/guardianship-laws-improving-but-problems-persist/#4d3105227b40

https://www.whitbecklegal.com/an-overview-of-virginia-child-custody-agreements/

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