After a petition for involuntary guardianship is filed, the probate court will schedule a hearing.
Before the hearing, the court will order evaluation of the “respondent” (the person alleged to need a guardian). The respondent is evaluated by a qualified mental health professional. You may propose the name of someone who can perform the evaluation. The evaluation is due within 30 days of the petition’s filing.
If the respondent can afford to pay for the evaluation, he or she can be required to pay the cost of the evaluation. If the respondent cannot afford to pay for an evaluation, the State of Vermont will pay.
The respondent, the petitioner and other interested people may attend the hearing and testify. The respondent has the right to a lawyer at the hearing. The respondent and the petitioner may subpoena, present and cross-examine witnesses, including those who prepared the evaluation.
The court will read the mental evaluation. The person who did the mental evaluation can be required to testify at the hearing. The court may exclude any person who is not necessary for the hearing.
If the court finds that the respondent is unable to handle his or her financial or personal affairs and needs a guardian, the court can appoint a guardian if there is no alternative. The court can appoint a guardian even though the respondent does not want one.
If the court approves the petition for guardianship, it decides what powers the guardian should have to meet the specific needs of the respondent. This includes support services and benefits that the guardian should get for the respondent. The powers of the guardian should be as limited as necessary.