There are typically two primary reasons that an individual would wish to become a guardian or conservator in the District of Columbia. The first is to manage assets on behalf of a minor child in the event that the child’s natural parents are no longer able or capable of providing for the minor child. The second is to be able to make financial, legal, and healthcare decisions for adults lacking the capacity to do so for themselves. If you are interested in becoming a guardian, start the process early by contacting a Washington, DC trust and estates lawyer and discuss how you should proceed.
How a DC Guardianship Lawyer Can Help
An attorney can help you understand the responsibilities, obligations, and time commitment of becoming a guardian or conservator role before you begin the process of petitioning the court for appointment. In addition, a DC guardianship attorney can assist you with preparing the initial pleadings for filing with the court and the attachments that go along with the initial pleadings. An attorney can also represent you at the initial hearing. When you first approach a trusts and estates lawyer for representation, he or she will be able to provide you information on what certain terms mean, like attorney-in-fact.
After the initial hearing, your attorney can help you prepare for trial, if necessary. If you are successfully appointed through the initial hearing, your DC guardianship lawyer can help you prepare all of the supplemental reportings, including the guardianship report, the conservatorship report, the initial inventory, and subsequent accountings and reports. An attorney will continue to advise you on your responsibilities as a guardian or a conservator. When it is time to terminate the guardianship or conservatorship, either because the ward has regained capacity, turned eighteen (18), or passed away, your attorney can assist you with filing the necessary pleadings and reports to terminate the proceeding.
Important Steps to Take
The first step to take in a DC guardianship case is to determine whether there are any less restrictive forms of intervention for the ward. Prior to seeking an appointment, an attorney will help you evaluate whether a guardianship proceeding is the best choice for the ward and whether the petitioner is prepared to assume the obligations required of a guardian or conservator. If a guardianship or conservatorship is decided on, the attorney may help you prepare all of the initial pleadings and represent you at the initial court hearing.
After the filing, there will likely be an attorney appointed for the ward, the term used to describe the person lacking capacity to make his or her own decisions. That attorney will visit the ward and determine whether the ward is consenting or objecting to the guardianship. They will also help clients prove the person lacks capacity to make their own decisions. If the guardianship is consented to by all parties, there may only be one hearing to appoint the guardian or conservator.
If the guardianship or conservatorship is contested, then there may be a trial where it is necessary to prove that the potential ward lacks the required capacity to make his or her own decisions about health, finances, and legal matters. The trial may also determine if the person petitioning is the best person to serve as guardian or conservator.
After you are appointed guardian or conservator, your DC guardianship attorney will continue to help you prepare the inventory of the ward’s assets, the initial conservatorship and guardianship reports, and the annual or semi-annual reports as required. He or she may also continue to advise you on your duties and responsibilities as required by law.
Preparing Documents in DC Guardianship Cases
A DC guardianship attorney may help you prepare the initial pleadings and gather the information necessary to prepare the pleadings. It usually involves collecting the names and addresses of all of the interested persons of the case, identifying the assets of the ward, describing the ward’s reason for lack of capacity, and procuring any required medical reports on the mental capacity of the ward. After the initial pleadings are filed, an attorney in DC can assist you with preparing and mailing or delivering the required notices. If you are appointed as guardian or conservator, your attorney can help you prepare the required semi-annual reports, inventory and accountings.
Kerri Castellini: On Her Personal Experience With These Cases
“I have represented guardians and conservators in the District of Columbia and helped to advise them on their responsibilities and roles as a guardian or conservator. I can also assist clients in planning for incapacity so that a guardianship and/or conservatorship may be avoided. Finally, if a ward passes away, I can also assist with the estate administration, and having the Personal Representative qualified by the court to serve.”