Rhode Island

Guardianship Laws

Adult Guardianship Statute: 
Right to Counsel in Statute: Initial Guardianship Proceedings: 
Yes
Right to Counsel in Statute: Post-Appointment Guardianship Proceedings: 
Yes
Right to Counsel Statututory Citation: 

R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 33-15-7(d)-(e), 33-15-18(a)

Right to Counsel Definition in Statute: 

"If the respondent wishes to contest the petition, to have limits placed on the guardian's powers or to object to a particular person being appointed guardian, and, if legal counsel has not been secured, the court shall appoint legal counsel." R.I. Gen. Laws  §§ 33-15-7(d). "If the respondent requests legal counsel, or if the guardian ad litem determines it is in the best interest of the respondent to have legal counsel, and if legal counsel has not been secured, the court shall appoint legal counsel." R.I. Gen. Laws  §§ 33-15-7(e).  If the respondent has legal counsel independently or appointed pursuant to subsection (d) or (e), the appointment of a guardian ad litem shall terminate except insofar as informing the court of the respondent's wishes and objections. R.I. Gen. Laws  § 33-15-7(f).

Advocacy Role of Counsel Defined in Statute: 
Not stated
Professional Rules &/or Ethics Opinions: 

RIRPC Rule 1.14: (a) When a client's capacity to make adequately considered decisions in connection with a representation is diminished, whether because of minority, mental impairment, or for some other reason, the lawyer shall, as far as reasonably possible, maintain a normal client-lawyer relationship with the client. (b) When the lawyer reasonably believes that the client has diminished capacity, is at risk of substantial physical, financial or other harm unless action is taken and cannot adequately act in the client's own interest, the lawyer may take reasonably necessary protective action, including consulting with individuals or entities that have the ability to take action to protect the client and, in appropriate cases, seeking the appointment of a guardian ad litem, conservator or guardian."

Other Important Info: 

Setting forth the guardianship respondent's right to legal counsel, distinguishing the role of GAL from the role of attorney for the respondent, and stating that the GAL ʺshall not interfere with interested parties and their counsel in gathering and presenting evidence according to court orders and rules of discovery and evidenceʺ R.I. Gen. Laws § 33-15-7(b), (d), (g).

Discuss Guardianship or Supported Decision-Making?: 
No