Guardianships and Conservatorships
A Guardianship or Conservatorship is a legal, court-ordered relationship in which one individual becomes a substitute decision maker for another. In Virginia, guardians and conservators are appointed by a Circuit Court judge to protect an incapacitated person (i.e., a person who cannot make decisions without the assistance of another person).
The primary responsibilities of a Virginia guardian are to decide where the incapacitated person will live and how meals, personal care, transportation, and recreation will be provided and health care decisions made. A guardian must also make annual reports to the local department of social services about his actions and the welfare of the incapacitated person. A guardian’s authority to make decisions may be limited depending on the ability of the incapacitated person’s ability to care for his own personal, health, and safety needs.
The primary responsibilities of a Virginia conservator are to manage an incapacitated person’s financial and property affairs. The conservator must take control of the person’s assets, establish a budget, pay the person’s debts, and prepare an inventory and periodic accountings of the person’s assets and submit these reports to the Commissioner of Accounts for review and approval. Like the authority of a guardian, the authority of a conservator may also be limited depending on the situation of the incapacitated person.