Our View of the Legislature: Guardianship

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The disAbility Law Center of Virginia supports efforts to reform our guardianship laws in support of greater independence for people with disabilities. Our 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.

All bills, except for the budget bill, are being reviewed by the Governor’s office. The Governor has until midnight, March 27th to either sign, amend, or veto the bills.

He has already approved one bill relating to guardianship: HB 2383, from Delegate Hope, which protects financial information in guardianship proceedings.

We are awaiting the Governor’s review of other bills dealing with the state’s guardianship laws, including:

  • HB 2027 (Roem) deals with the perennial problem of a guardian restricting someone’s ability to have visitors. In its current form, the bill establishes the process by which a guardian may restrict visitors, encourages the guardian to take the person’s preferences into account, and limits a guardian’s ability to restrict an incapacitated person from communicating with, visiting, or interacting with other persons with whom the incapacitated person has an established relationship.
  • HB 2028 (Roem) establishes the minimum numbers of visits by a guardian. The original bill – never very demanding to begin with – was amended and approved by the House to have even lower expectations of a guardian. As amended, the bill only requires three visits a year by a guardian, and only one of those in person.
  • HB 1860 (Bell) sets slightly stricter requirements on the quality of a medical report in a petition for guardship.
  • SB 987 (Mason) creates a duty for guardians to make regular appearances in court after being appointed. The bill requires a hearing in the first year of the guardianship and every three years thereafter, unless there is a specific reason not to.

Some bills in this session dealt with the information available to Guardians Ad Litem, who are appointed by the Court to discern the best interests of the person who is the subject of the petition. These bills include SB 1144 and SB 1033, both from Senator McPike.

Unless they are revived in the ongoing budget amendment bill, two bills that set training requirements for guardians are dead. SB 1140 (McPike) and HB 2437 (Roem) were tabled in the Committee on Appropriations.

Many of the reforms considered by the legislature are based on a 2021 study by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee. The JLARC report is linked below.