Virginia's Judicial System

About Guardians Ad Litem For Incapacitated Persons (Adults)

The Office of the Executive Secretary, Supreme Court of Virginia, administers the guardian ad litem (GAL) for incapacitated persons program on behalf of the Judicial Council of Virginia pursuant to Chapter 921, 1997 Acts of Assembly.  The program qualifies attorneys to serve as GALs and provides information to the circuit courts about attorneys who meet the requirements of the “Standards to Govern the Appointment of Guardians Ad Litem for Incapacitated Persons” adopted by the Judicial Council.  The list of qualified GALs is updated monthly, on or about the 1st of the month.

The appointment of a GAL is mandatory in cases in which a petition for guardianship or conservatorship is filed in the circuit court.  Virginia Code § 37.2-1003.  The definition of an incapacitated person, as it relates to this program, is

an adult who has been found by a court to be incapable of receiving and evaluating information effectively or responding to people, events, or environments to such an extent that the individual lacks the capacity to (i) meet the essential requirements for his health, care, safety, or therapeutic needs without the assistance or protection of a guardian or (ii) manage property or financial affairs or provide for his support or for the support of his legal dependents without the assistance or protection of a conservator. A finding that the individual displays poor judgment alone shall not be considered sufficient evidence that the individual is an incapacitated person within the meaning of this definition. A finding that a person is incapacitated shall be construed as a finding that the person is "mentally incompetent" as that term is used in Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution of Virginia and Title 24.2 unless the court order entered pursuant to this chapter specifically provides otherwise. Virginia Code § 37.2-1000.