- Intervention proceedings are opened for adults 18 or older who live in the District of Columbia, are incapacitated, and need assistance with health care, quality of life, or placement decisions or the handling of finances or other assets.
- The petitioner bears the burden of proving that the subject of the petition is incapacitated as defined by the law in the District of Columbia by clear and convincing evidence. An “incapacitated individual” is defined in D.C. Code, sec. 21-2011(11), as an adult (i.e., someone who is 18 or older) “whose ability to receive and evaluate information or to communicate decisions is impaired to such an extent that he or she lacks the capacity to manage all or some of his or her financial resources or to meet all or some essential requirements for his or her physical health, safety, habilitation, or therapeutic needs without court-ordered assistance or the appointment of a guardian or conservator.” The petitioner can prove incapacity by attaching medical evidence to the petition or presenting medical evidence or testimony in court at the hearing that will be scheduled the day that the petition is filed and held approximately one month later. Unless the subject is found by the Court to be incapacitated, no guardian or conservator will be appointed, so a petitioner should provide as much proof of incapacity as possible. Such proof includes medical records and examiner’s reports, both of which can be filed with the petition.
Items Needed to Request Appointment of a Guardian and/or ConservatorA Petition for a General Proceeding, medical evidence, a Statement of Criminal History, a Notice of Hearing Pursuant to Subject, a Notice of Hearing Pursuant to Other Persons, and an Order Appointing Counsel, Examiner, Visitor and/or Guardian ad Litem must be filed. A Statement of Criminal History must be filed by any person who is seeking appointment as guardian. An Order Regarding Temporary Relief may be needed if emergency relief is requested. A filing fee of $45.00 payable to “Register of Wills” is required if a conservator or protective order is requested and may be paid by check or money order payable to "Register of Wills," cash, or credit card (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express).
Filing The PetitionWhen the petition for a general proceeding is filed, it is reviewed by the Probate Division’s Legal Branch to ensure that all of the necessary documents have been submitted and that the filings comply with minimum legal requirements. On the day that the petition is filed, a hearing date is scheduled for approximately one month later. The petition is then transmitted to a judge for appointment of counsel for the ward and, if the petitioner has so requested and the Court concurs, appointment of an examiner, a visitor, and/or a guardian ad litem.
If temporary relief has been requested (such as payment of bills of an emergency nature or freezing accounts to stop mishandling of the subject’s funds), the Judge will decide whether to grant such relief and issue an appropriate order. Copies of all orders signed by the Judge will be mailed or eServed on the petitioner, his or her attorney, the subject, and any other parties.
- Counsel and any examiner, visitor, or guardian ad litem appointed for the subject will usually visit the subject as quickly as possible to prepare for the hearing. The petitioner must appear at the hearing with any witnesses that the petitioner wishes to present and should bring the form titled Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Order and if the petitioner is requesting appointment, the form titled Statement of Criminal History if it has not already been filed. Counsel for the subject will appear, usually with the subject. If a visitor, examiner, or guardian ad litem has been appointed, that person must also appear at the hearing. The Court will hear the evidence presented and ordinarily will decide at the hearing whether to appoint a guardian or conservator, who that person will be, whether bond is required, and, if so, the amount of the bond. The Court may limit or restrict the powers of the person appointed; for example, sale of a ward’s home is often restricted, so cannot occur without Court order. The Court may also expand the powers.After appointment, a conservator must file an Inventory and Plan within 90 days and an annual account on or before the anniversary date of the appointment plus 30 days.
- After appointment, a guardian must file the results of a criminal history check conducted by the Metropolitan Police Department within 60 days and
an FBI fingerprint background check report within 180 days. Any irregularity in either report will be brought to the attention of the Judge with case responsibility for action and a hearing will be scheduled without further notice. Possible actions at the hearing include removal of the guardian and appointment of another person as successor guardian.
- The guardian must also file a Guardianship Plan within 90 days of the date of appointment and a Report of Guardian no less often than every six months from the anniversary date of appointment. If a guardian or conservator needs more time to file something that he or she is required to file, the guardian or conservator can file a motion to request more time. The motion should explain the reason why more time is needed and estimate the additional time required.
The powers of a guardian are listed in D.C. Code, sec. 21-2047. Limitations on the powers of a guardian are listed in D.C. Code, sec. 21-2047.01. The powers of a conservator are listed in D.C. Code, sec. 21-2070. If a guardian or conservator needs to do something that he or she does not have the power to do, a petition post appointment can be filed to ask the Court for permission or instructions.