Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 64.2. Wills, Trusts, and Fiduciaries
Chapter 20. Guardianship and Conservatorship

§ 64.2-2007. Hearing on petition to appoint.

A. The respondent is entitled to a jury trial upon request, and may compel the attendance of witnesses, present evidence on his own behalf, and confront and cross-examine witnesses.

B. The court or the jury, if a jury is requested, shall hear the petition for the appointment of a guardian or conservator. The hearing may be held at such convenient place as the court directs, including the place where the respondent is located. The hearing shall be conducted within 120 days from the filing of the petition unless the court postpones it for cause. The proposed guardian or conservator shall attend the hearing except for good cause shown and, where appropriate, shall provide the court with a recommendation as to living arrangements and a treatment plan for the respondent. The respondent is entitled to be present at the hearing and all other stages of the proceedings. The respondent shall be present if he so requests or if his presence is requested by the guardian ad litem. Whether or not present, the respondent shall be regarded as having denied the allegations in the petition.

C. In determining the need for a guardian or a conservator and the powers and duties of any guardian or conservator, if needed, consideration shall be given to the following factors: (i) the limitations of the respondent; (ii) the development of the respondent's maximum self-reliance and independence; (iii) the availability of less restrictive alternatives, including advance directives, supported decision-making agreements, and durable powers of attorney; (iv) the extent to which it is necessary to protect the respondent from neglect, exploitation, or abuse; (v) the actions needed to be taken by the guardian or conservator; (vi) the suitability of the proposed guardian or conservator; and (vii) the best interests of the respondent.

D. If, after considering the evidence presented at the hearing, the court or jury determines on the basis of clear and convincing evidence that the respondent is incapacitated and in need of a guardian or conservator, the court shall appoint a suitable person, who may be the spouse of the respondent, to be the guardian or the conservator or both, giving due deference to the wishes of the respondent. If a guardian or conservator is appointed, the court shall inform him of his duties and powers pursuant to Article 2 (§ 64.2-2019 et seq.) and shall further inform the guardian or conservator that, to the extent feasible, the respondent should be encouraged to participate in decisions, act on his own behalf, and develop or maintain the capacity to manage his personal affairs if he retains any decision-making rights. Except for good cause shown, including a determination by the court that there is no acceptable alternative available to serve, the court shall not appoint as guardian or conservator for the respondent an attorney who has been engaged by the petitioner to represent the petitioner within three calendar years of the appointment. Such prohibition also applies to all other attorneys and employees of the law firm with which such attorney is associated. The court shall require the proposed guardian or conservator to certify at the time of appointment that he has disclosed to the court any such representation of the petitioner or association with a law firm that represented the petitioner within the three calendar years preceding the appointment. Compensation paid by a petitioner to an attorney or law firm for serving as a guardian or conservator shall not constitute representation of the petitioner by such attorney or law firm. In the case of a petitioner that is a medical care facility as defined in § 32.1-3, the court may, for good cause shown, order that the reasonable costs for the guardian or conservator be paid by the petitioner during the time the respondent is under the care of such medical care facility.

The court in its order shall make specific findings of fact and conclusions of law in support of each provision of any orders entered. The order of appointment shall be made in a form that complies with the requirements set out in § 64.2-2009.

1997, c. 921, § 37.1-134.13; 2005, c. 716, § 37.2-1007; 2009, c. 433; 2012, c. 614; 2013, c. 523; 2020, cc. 649, 855; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 232.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.