Our View of the Legislature: Guardianship

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The Legislature will begin to debate bills relating to guardianship next week.  On Monday, January 24, at 8 am, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hear two bills on guardianship.  You can watch that hearing, or sign up to offer comment, by clicking here.

The two bills on the agenda for Monday morning are:

SB 302 (Deeds) allows a physician to declare someone permanently incapacitated prior to age 18 making the parents permanent natural guardians.  dLCV will speak in opposition to this bill.

SB 514 (McPike) – makes numerous changes to the duties of guardians and to the duties of the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court in overseeing guardianships.  dLCV will be monitoring and supporting in concept.

Other guardianship bills of note:

HB 94 (Head) creates an Ombudsman for the public guardianship program

HB 424 (Herring) and HB 634 (Roem) require a guardian to visit the incapacitated person at least once very three months to make certain observations.

HB 623 (Hudson) requires the guardian ad litem to recommend appointment of counsel if the person who may be subject to the guardianship requests counsel.   Current law only requires it if the GAL believes it is necessary. HB 643 (Roem) sets conditions for periodic reviews of guardianship orders

Many of the bills being considered are as a result of a comprehensive study conducted by JLARC.  In October, 2022, the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission issued a report on Virginia’s Guardianship and Conservatorship laws, making dozens of recommendations for improvements.  You can read that report by clicking here.

The disAbility Law Center of Virginia’s mission is to advance independence, choice and self-determination; protect legal, human and civil rights; and eliminate abuse, neglect and discrimination of people with disabilities through zealous and uncompromising legal advocacy and representation.   We are available to educate policy makers about the potential impact of legislative proposals and budgetary considerations.  Please let us know of any legislative proposals or budget issues that you think we should be following.  Contact us at info@dlcv.org or by calling 1-800-552-3962 or 804-225-2042.