Guardianship, Petitions, Laws, and Alternatives

Information

Guardianship
Guardianship for Adults
How to Petition for Guardianship
Alternatives to Guardianship
Forms
Model Guardianship Evaluation
Legislation, Statutes and Regulations
Comprehensive Evaluation

Guardianship
A guardian is a person with the legal responsibility to protect the well-being and rights of another. A guardian also has authority to make certain legal decisions for the person.

Parents are deemed to be the guardians of their biological children under age 18. A parent who adopts a child becomes the guardian of the adopted child. A parent may voluntarily relinquish guardianship of a child under age 18 and grant guardianship to another adult.

Upon turning age 18 all Vermonters are presumed to be competent to make their own decisions and to have a right of self-determination. A parent is no longer considered the guardian of a child once the child turns 18. Any guardianship for an adult must be authorized by a court.

Most adults with cognitive or developmental disabilities can make decisions for themselves. They may need extra support and time to learn to make decisions. There are many alternatives to guardianship which can provide the protections a person needs. Guardianship should be pursued only as a last resort.

Types of Guardianship:

  • Guardianship of a Child Under Age 18
  • Guardianship for Adults

Guardianship for Adults
Upon turning age 18 all Vermonters are presumed to be competent to make their own decisions and to have a right of self-determination. A parent is no longer considered the guardian of a child once the child turns 18. Any guardianship for an adult must be authorized by a court.

There are 4 main kinds of guardianship for adults in Vermont:

A guardianship may be limited or full. Even with a full guardian, a Vermonter retains certain basic rights, such as the right to vote, free speech, and practice religion.

A guardian does not have the authority to place a person involuntarily into a psychiatric hospital.

How to Petition for Guardianship
There are different types of guardianship with separate and distinct petition processes.

NOTE: The petition process for private guardianship is the same as for Public Guardianship for adults age 60 and over who have a mental disability.

Alternatives to Guardianship
Independence and self-determination are important to all people. Because guardianship for adults is intrusive and involves the removal of rights from an individual, it should be considered only after reasonable alternatives have been considered. Some alternatives are easier and less costly than court procedures; others are not.  What are the Alternatives to Guardianship?

Like guardianship itself, the success of alternatives to guardianship depends greatly upon the skill of the support people for the individual, and the relationships among the individual’s circle of support. Parents or others who are supporting an individual with any of the alternatives should:

  • Be willing to listen to the person’s voice
  • Honestly assess the person’s ability
  • Be willing to respect the person’s dream
  • Be available in crisis
  • Be willing to do needed paperwork
  • Be a creative advocate
  • Keep the individual informed about what you are doing

    More about Alternatives to Guardianship

Forms

Petition for Guardianship Services (Family Court) Forms: Petition for Guardianship Services for an Adult with Developmental Disabilities (August 2002)
Petition to Appoint a Private Guardian or a Public Guardian for a person 60 and over. Probate Court Forms:

Are you having difficulty accessing any of the "Petition to Appoint a Private Guardian (Probate Court) Forms"?
If your web browser shows that the form has downloaded completely but you do not see the form, click the "Back" button on your web browser and click the form link again. If the form still does not appear you can access the VT Judiciary Probate Court Forms website directly at: http://vermontjudiciary.org/MasterPages/Court-Forms-Probate.aspx From this page you may access the above listed forms directly.

 

Model Guardianship Evaluation
The American Bar Association, the American Psychological Association, and the National College of Probate Judges have collaborated to publish a guidebook on assessing the capacity of older adults. The guidebook, Judicial Determination of Capacity of Older Adults in Guardianship Proceedings, is available at www.abanet.org/aging/docs/judgesbooksum.doc. The guidebook includes a Model Clinical Evaluation Form for use by clinicians in guardianship cases.

The form has been adapted for use in Vermont by Susan Wehry, M.D. Evaluators and others using the form are encouraged to read the entire guidebook.
          Model Guardianship Evaluation Form
To complete the form:  Print out and complete, or save the form to your computer and then complete.

 

Comprehensive Evaluation
The comprehensive evaluation shall include information regarding a person's developmental and social functioning which is relevant to the person's need for guardianship.  The evaluation shall contain recommendations and supporting data regarding the ability of the person to function in society without guardianship and shall specify those activities for which the respondent needs supervision and protection,  and shall include information regarding the availability of one or more reasonable adults to assist the individual in decision-making.  (Vermont Statute, Title 18: Health, Chapter 215: Guardianship Services For People with Developmental Disabilities).

 

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