In Vermont, a court can appoint a public guardian for:
- adults with an intellectual disability, or
- adults who are over the age of 60.
Public guardianships are only “involuntary.”
In a public guardianship, the Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living (DAIL) is appointed to act as guardian. The Office of Public Guardian carries out the guardian’s responsibilities.
A friend, relative, social worker or anyone concerned about the welfare of an adult with an intellectual disability may file a petition asking for a public guardian to be appointed.
For a person with an intellectual disability, the petition is filed in family court. Once you file the petition, the State’s Attorney will take over the case. You may attend and participate in court hearings in the case, but the State’s Attorney will be responsible for bringing the case before the court.
For a person over 60, the petition is filed in probate court. To have a public guardian appointed for someone over the age of 60, you follow the same process as for appointment of a private guardian. Instead of naming a private individual as the proposed guardian in the petition, you ask that a public guardian be appointed.
If you have a guardian – or someone has suggested you need a guardian – and you want help or have questions about your rights, contact us. Fill out our form and we will call you back. Your information will be sent to Legal Services Vermont, which screens requests for help for both Vermont Legal Aid and Legal Services Vermont. You can also call us at 1-800-889-2047.