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What to Know about Guardianships in Washington DC

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A guardian is someone the court appoints to oversee the property and/or the care of a minor child or an incapacitated adult. The person who the guardian is overseeing is known as the “ward.” When a minor child is involved, the guardian will be responsible for helping with the child’s daily needs, which can include clothing, medical care, food, etc.

How Does a Guardianship Begin?

The court is the one who has the authority to appoint a guardian. The process starts with the potential guardian providing the required documents and paperwork, then there will be background checks and court fees paid. If someone is asking to be appointed, they must petition the D.C. Superior Court. Once the petition is filed, the person is known as the petitioner, and they must deliver or mail the necessary notices to the interested parties in the case. Interested parties would likely be considered heirs of the ward, as if he or she passed away.

The court will hold an initial hearing where the judge will review the guardianship petition and any answer by the ward’s attorney. If all parties are in agreement to the appointment and the evidence provided satisfies all the requirements, then the judge may proceed to appoint the petitioner as the guardian.

If there is a question or the petition is contested, the reasons are usually because there is a question on whether the ward truly lacks capacity or whether or not the particular petitioner is the right person to serve as the guardian. In this case, the judge would set a trial date and provide a schedule for required discovery. At the trial itself, the petitioner would then present evidence to show that the ward is truly incapable of making his or her own decisions.

What Happens if More Than More Than One Person Petitions?

If there is more than one petitioner, the court will look at all the candidates and evaluate who would be the best guardian and who would best serve the interests of the incapacitated adult or minor. In certain situations, the judge will also consider the ward’s choice as well. The judge may also look at testimony or evidence presented by treating physicians and/or staff at the ward’s medical facility. This information may help the judge to decide on one petitioner over another.

How to End a Guardianship in Washington DC

There may be multiple reasons you need to end a guardianship in Washington DC Some of these can include if the ward passes away, he or she regains capacity, the guardian or conservator dies, or the guardian needs to be removed for breaching their duties.

It doesn’t matter whether the ward is a minor or adult, there are filing requirements that need to be handled before a guardianship can be concluded. It’s important to have a skilled Washington DC guardianship attorney to help with this whole process.

Contact a Washington DC Guardianship Attorney

If you have questions about guardianships, or you need to petition to be in charge of a ward, contact the skilled team at Tobin, O’Connor & Ewing at 202-362-5900 to schedule an initial consultation.

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