Seals of the Court of Appeals and Superior Court
District of Columbia Courts

Intervention Proceedings (INT/IDD)

How do I become responsible for an incapacitated adult?

Intervention proceedings are opened for adults 18 or older who live in the District of Columbia, are incapacitated, and need assistance with health care, quality of life, or placement decisions or the handling of finances or other assets.

General Information
Petitions to open an intervention proceeding, seeking the appointment of a guardian or conservator of an incapacitated person or for a protective order relating to an incapacitated person, are filed in the Probate Division of the District of Columbia Superior Court.

Procedures before Appointment
The petitioner bears the burden of proving that the subject of the petition is incapacitated as defined by the law in the District of Columbia by clear and convincing evidence. An "incapacitated" person is defined in DC Code, sec. 21-2011(11), as an adult, age 18 or older, "whose ability to receive and evaluate information or to communicate decisions is impaired to such an extent that he or she lacks the capacity to manage all or some of his or her financial resources or to meet all or some essential requirements for his or her physical health, safety, habilitation, or therapeutic needs without court-ordered assistance or the appointment of a guardian or conservator." The petitioner can prove incapacity by attaching medical evidence to the petition or presenting medical evidence or testimony in Court at the hearing that will be scheduled after the petition is filed. Unless the subject is found by the Court to be incapacitated, no guardian or conservator will be appointed, so a petitioner should provide as much proof of incapacity as possible.

When the petition for a general proceeding is filed, it is reviewed by the Probate Division’s Legal Branch to ensure that all of the necessary documents have been submitted and that the filings comply with minimum legal requirements. When the petition is accepted for filing, a hearing date is scheduled for approximately one month later. The petition is then transmitted to a judge for appointment of counsel for the subject and, if the petitioner has so requested, appointment of an examiner, a guardian ad litem, and/or a visitor.

Counsel and any examiner, visitor, or guardian ad litem appointed for the subject will usually visit the subject as quickly as possible to prepare for the hearing. The subject must be personally served with the notice of initial hearing and petition by an adult other than the petitioner at least 14 days before the hearing. An affidavit of service must be filed at Court at least 5 days before the hearing.

The petitioner must appear at the hearing with any witnesses that the petitioner wishes to present and should bring the form titled Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Order. Counsel for the subject will appear, usually with the subject. If a visitor, examiner, or guardian ad litem has been appointed, that person must also appear at the hearing. The Court will hear the evidence presented and ordinarily will decide at the hearing whether a guardian or conservator will be appointed, who that person will be, whether bond is required, and, if so, the amount of the bond. The Court may limit, or restrict, the powers of the person appointed. For example, sale of a ward’s home is often restricted so that the conservator cannot sell it without a Court order authorizing the sale.

Items Needed to Open an Intervention Case
The forms needed to open an intervention proceeding include the following:

Petition for a General Proceeding
Order Appointing Counsel, Examiner, Visitor and/or Guardian ad Litem
Notice of Initial Hearing for Subject
Notice of Initial Hearing for Parties
Personal Identification Information (Form 26)
Financial Account Information (Form 27)

There is a filing fee of $45.00 payable to "Register of Wills" if a conservator or protective order is requested.

Emergency Proceedings and Special Relief
In life-threatening situations or situations involving emergency medical care, a petitioner can request appointment of an emergency guardian, who may serve for 21 days, or appointment of a temporary, health care guardian, who may serve for as long as 90 days. The standard for granting emergency relief is higher, and the incapacity of the subject should be certified by two professionals, one of whom must have examined the subject within 1 day preceding the certification. See DC Code, sec. 21-2204. The form needed to request appointment of either an emergency guardian or a temporary, health care guardian is a Petition for Appointment of Temporary Guardian.

In situations involving financial abuse, if a petition for appointment of a guardian or conservator is being filed, the petitioner can request temporary relief before the initial hearing. Because the standard for granting temporary relief is higher, such requests should be accompanied by details that support the allegation of financial abuse. The Order Regarding Temporary Relief Request must be attached if temporary relief is requested.

Procedures after Appointment
After appointment, a conservator must file an Inventory and Conservatorship Plan within 60 days and an annual Account within 30 days of the anniversary date of appointment. A guardian must file a Guardianship Plan within 90 days of appointment and a Report of Guardian every six months from the anniversary date of appointment. If a guardian or conservator needs more time to file something that he or she is supposed to file, a motion can be filed to request more time.

The powers of a guardian are listed in DC Code, sec. 21-2047, which also lists some powers that a guardian does not have. The powers of a conservator are listed in DC Code, sec. 21-2070. If a guardian or conservator needs to do something that he or she does not have the power to do, a Petition Post Appointment can be filed to ask the Court for permission or instructions.

Probate Division

Presiding Judge: Hon. Laura Cordero
Deputy Presiding Judge: Hon. Carmen McLean
Director: Nicole Stevens
Deputy Director: Aisha Ivey-Nixon

Register of Wills: Nicole Stevens
Deputy Register of Wills: John H. Middleton

Court Building A
515 Fifth Street, NW, Third Floor
Washington, DC 20001

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Hours of Operation

8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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