A private involuntary guardianship is when you ask the Probate Division of the Vermont Superior Court to appoint a private guardian for another person. The court can only appoint a guardian if the person alleged to be in need of guardianship is unable to manage their personal affairs as the result of a mental impairment.
Filing for Involuntary Guardianship
Before filing for guardianship, consider whether there are alternatives to guardianship which might meet the individual’s need for help. These can include having a representative payee appointed through Social Security, making a general power of attorney or advance directive, or establishing some other form of Supported Decision Making.
Tip: If you believe a person needs a guardian because they are being abused, neglected or financially exploited, contact Vermont’s Adult Protective Services division at 1-800-564-1412.
A friend, relative, social worker or anyone concerned about a person’s welfare may file a petition in court for involuntary guardianship. In the petition, you need to explain how the person you think needs a guardian is mentally impaired, and how that impairment has made them unable to meet their basic needs. When you file the petition with the court, you are called the “petitioner.”
As the petitioner, you may request that someone else be named as guardian or you may name yourself. You must pay a filing fee for the petition unless you can’t afford it. (In 2017 the filing fee was $50.) You can ask to have the fee waived by the court.
Once a guardianship petition has been filed, the court will appoint an attorney to represent the person who is alleged to be in need of guardianship. The court will schedule the case for hearing and order an evaluation to help determine the need for guardianship.
For more information and forms for a probate court involuntary guardianship, visit the Vermont Judiciary website.