signing legal documentsThis is the next post in a series of articles discussing guardianships for adults with intellectual disabilities in Hartford, Connecticut. My previous post reviewed the circumstances under which a Probate Court may appoint a guardian for such individuals. The Court will rigorously apply the statutory definition of intellectual disability and review assessments to determine if guardianship is appropriate and, if so, the scope of the guardian’s authority. In this article, we will review the process to establish guardianship. Working with an experienced attorney can help ensure that you are prepared for the hearing and that the procedural and evidentiary requirements are properly followed. If you need assistance, contact our office to schedule a consultation with a lawyer.

A parent, family member, or another concerned person may petition the Probate Court to establish a guardianship for an individual with an intellectual disability, also known as the respondent. The petition must be filed in the district where the respondent’s home is located or where they currently reside if not in their permanent home. Once filed, the Court will schedule a hearing to be held within 45 days. Notice of the hearing must be served on the respondent and their family members at least 7 days in advance. At the hearing, the petitioner must demonstrate that the respondent’s intellectual disability prevents them from meeting some or all of the essential requirements for their physical health and safety and/or is unable to make informed decisions about some or all matters related to their care.

As with other legal proceedings, the petitioner must be prepared to provide evidence in support of their claim that the respondent’s disability is severe enough to necessitate a guardianship. Evidence about the individual’s condition, behavior, cognitive abilities, etc. will be required. Furthermore, the Department of Developmental Services will complete an assessment of the respondent prior to the hearing and will file their results with the Probate Court. The assessment will not only include an independent determination about whether the person has an intellectual disability, but also whether the severity of the condition requires the supervision of a guardian. The respondent is generally required to attend the hearing and may have their own attorney if necessary. Officials from the DDS may also attend and provide testimony. If the petitioner establishes by clear and convincing evidence that the respondent’s intellectual disability renders them incapable of making essential or informed decisions, the Probate Court will appoint a guardian. The scope of the guardian’s authority will be dependent upon the severity of the condition and whether the respondent is totally or partially incapacitated. It is possible to appeal decisions made by the Probate Court within 30 days after the issuance of a court order.

We understand that the legal process to establish a guardianship can seem intimidating. It is important to consult with an attorney experienced in such matters to help you navigate the process and avoid costly mistakes. If you need assistance, contact our office today to speak with a Hartford lawyer. We also service the areas of Wethersfield, New Britain, Rocky Hill, West and East Hartford, Bristol, Glastonbury, and Manchester, as well as the Middlesex County cities of Middletown and Cromwell.