This is part 16 of our series of articles about Washington, DC probate. We know that probate isn’t always exciting and congratulations for following along! If you missed any of our previous articles in this series, check out our index of the entire series to see what you’ve missed.
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In this post, we’re talking about the four types of petitions that may be used in these types of cases. Each petition is used for a different situation.
The first is a Petition for Temporary Guardian, which can be filed when an allegedly incapacitated adult is experiencing a life-threatening situation or a situation involving emergency medical care. The incapacity of the subject must be certified by two professionals, one of whom must have examined the subject within one day preceding the certification in accordance with D.C. Code, sec. 21-2204.
The second petition is a Petition for General Proceeding for appointing a guardian and/or a conservator. The petitioner typically provides medical evidence of incapacity as part of this petition. This petition is filed with a Notice of Initial Hearing and also with proposed Orders for the judge’s signature if you are requesting that legal counsel, an examiner, a guardian ad litem and/or a visitor be appointed.
Guardian ad litem is a common term in conservatorship/guardianship proceedings, and it describes a person who helps the subject determine the subject’s interests in regard to the petition for a general proceeding. If the subject is unconscious or otherwise wholly incapable of determining his or her interests even with assistance, the guardian ad litem makes that determination.
A visitor is an officer, employee, or special appointee of the court who has no personal interest in the proceeding and who serves as an independent investigator, reports to the court on the subject’s current situation and living conditions, and provides an opinion regarding the circumstances surrounding the subject. D.C. Code, sec. 21-2011(7).
The third type of petition is a Petition for Temporary Relief, and it may be used in situations involved financial abuse. The petitioner may ask the court for temporary relief in the petition for general proceeding “to preserve and apply the property of the individual to be protected as may be required for support of the individual or the dependents of the individual” in accordance with D.C. Code, secs. 21-2044(d) and 21-2055(b)(1).
Evidence and details regarding the allegations of financial abuse should be provided so that the judge can determine whether the petition for temporary relief should be heard sooner rather than later.
The fourth (and last) type of petition filed in intervention matters is a Petition Regarding a Missing, Disappeared, or Detained Person and it’s exactly as it sounds: It is used to appoint a conservator or for a protective order may be filed for a “missing person,” defined as a person detained by a foreign power or by someone other than a foreign power or for a person who has disappeared. D.C. Code, sec. 21-2051(b) and SCR-PD 350(a). The petition may be filed by any person interested in the estate, affairs, or welfare of the missing person. SCR-PD 350(b).
These kinds of cases are not commonly filed, but they are useful in situations where an individual has disappeared, is missing or has been detained.