Guardianship Petition - What's Required

A Guardianship is a court determination that a person is incapacitated and that a substitute decision maker is required to protect the health and safety of the individual. It usually means that for whatever reason the person either could not or failed to appoint their own substitute decision maker.

But if a court action is necessary what should it say. Most states have specific requirements that every petition for Guardianship must contain. The petition or complaint is used to start the procedure. It is the initial request for the court to declare someone incapacitated & why and who should be appointed as Guardian. In Virginia, the law requires the following:

  1. The petitioner's name, place of residence, mailing address and relationship, if any, to the alleged incapacitated person.

  2. The alleged incapacitated person's name, date of birth, place of residence or location, and mailing address. The person's social security number is also required but must be provided confidentially.

  3. The proposed Guardian's name and address must be provided. The petitioner and Guardian can be the same person.

  4. The basis for the court's jurisdiction and venue over the person.

  5. The petitioner must provide the names and addresses of the respondent's next of kin, such as spouse, adult children, parents and adult siblings. If no such relatives exist the petition must list three other relatives or certify that other relatives cannot be identified or located.

  6. The nature of the person's incapacity, the specific areas in which the person needs assistance and recommendations for living arrangements once the guardianship is in place. The petition must also contain the following:

    1. the person's native language or mode of communication;
    2. whether the person's presence at the hearing would be detrimental to him or her;
    3. whether the person ever did a power of attorney.

  7. Finally, every petition must request the appointment of a Guardian Ad Litem to represent the interests and protect the rights of the alleged incapacitated person. Under Virginia law the Guardian Ad Litem has specific statutory duties but we will need to leave those requirements to another newsletter.

Edward Zetlin Law is experienced in Guardianship, Conservatorship, Elder Law and Special Needs Planning issues. Don't hesitate to call if you face such an issue or if you have additional questions. Edward Zetlin Law would be happy to discuss. Please contact us at 703-379-0442 or e-mail at

Community Presentations: Mr. Zetlin will be presenting at the Arlington Unitarian Church at 7:00 pm on April 25th. He will be discussing retirement issues for boomers. On Sunday May 7th at 7:00 pm, Mr. Zetlin will present at the Arlington Trinity Presbyterian Church with a panel on estate planning.

Contact us at (703)379-0442;

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