Guardianship Laws

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

Vt. Stat. Ann. Tit. 14 §§ 3065(a)(1), 3068(d) (2011)

Right to Counsel Definition in Statute: 

The respondent shall have the right to be represented by counsel of his or her own choosing at any stages of a guardianship proceeding. Unless a respondent is already represented, the court: A) shall appoint counsel for the respondent when an initial petition for guardianship is filed; B) shall appoint counsel for the respondent in any subsequent proceeding if the respondent or a party requests appointment in writing; and C) may appoint counsel for the respondent on the court's initiative in any subsequent proceeding.

Advocacy Role of Counsel Defined in Statute: 
Advocacy Role of Counsel Definition in Statute: 

"Counsel for the respondent shall act as an advocate for the respondent and shall not substitute counsel's own judgment for that of the respondent on the subject of what may be in the best interest of the respondent. Counsel's role shall be distinct from that of a guardian ad litem if one is appointed. At a minimum, counsel shall endeavor to ensure that: (1) the wishes of the respondent, including those contained in an advance directive, as to the matter before the court are presented to the court; (2) there is no less restrictive alternative to guardianship or to the matter before the court; (3) proper due process procedure is followed; (4) no substantial rights of the respondent are waived, except with the respondent's consent and the court's approval, provided that the evaluation and report required under section 3067 of this title and the hearing required under section 3068 of this title may not be waived; (5) the petitioner proves allegations in the petition by clear and convincing evidence in an initial proceeding, and applicable legal standards are met in subsequent proceedings; (6) the proposed guardian is a qualified person to serve or to continue to serve, consistent with section 3072 of this title; and (7) if a guardian is appointed, the initial order or any subsequent order is least restrictive of the personal freedom of the person under guardianship consistent with the need for supervision." Vt. Stat. Ann. Title 14-3065(b).

Professional Rules &/or Ethics Opinions: 

If a legal representative has already been appointed for the client, the lawyer should ordinarily look to the representative for decision on behalf of the client. Code of Professional Responsibility, Comment 4, Rule 1.14 Client with Diminished Capacity.

Other Case Law: 

The court may appoint counsel before appointing a GAL. In re Judicial Review of S.A., 582 A.2d 137 (Vt. 1990)

Discuss Guardianship or Supported Decision-Making?: