Qualification

Qualification as Guardian of the Person or Property of a Minor

Natural Guardian of the Person of a Minor

By statute, the father and mother of every unmarried child, if living together and not otherwise unsuitable, shall be the joint natural guardians of the person of the child, with equal legal powers and equal legal rights in regard to such child.  Upon the death of either parent, the survivor shall be the natural guardian of the person of the child.  Where a parent has abandoned the family, the other parent shall be the natural guardian of the person of the child. Section 64.2-1700, Code of Virginia (1950). Where neither parent survives the minor, the Court appoints an appropriate guardian.

Appointment of a Guardian By the Court

The Code of Virginia provides the statutory requirements for the appointment of the guardian of the person and property of a minor.   Section 64.2-1702, Code of Virginia (1950).  The statutory provisions should be reviewed prior to application to the Henrico County Circuit Court Clerk’s office by petition.  You may need the services of a family law attorney or a qualified legal practitioner in the area of guardianships.

Guardianship of a minor involves the guardianship of the person of the minor and/or guardianship of the property of a minor.

While a parent is the legal guardian of the person of a minor, such parent is not the qualified guardian of the minor’s property to which such minor may be entitled by inheritance or some other method.

Many times there is a need to qualify as guardian of the property of a minor where the minor has inherited property as a result of the death of one parent or another relative.  Such guardianship of the property of a minor requires Court appointment of the surviving parent, or if both parents are deceased, the qualification of an adult determined by the Court to be an appropriate guardian of the property of the minor.

The Commissioner of Account’s office has no jurisdiction or supervision of a guardian of the person of a minor.

However, all persons qualified as the guardian of the property of a minor are required by law to report to the Commissioner of Accounts.

Guardianship of the Property of a Minor

Jurisdiction for the appointment of a guardian of the property of a minor who resides in Henrico County, Virginia, is with the Henrico County Circuit Court or the Clerk’s office of the Henrico County Circuit Court.  Section 64.2-1702, Code of Virginia (1950).

Guardianship of the property of a minor is by appointment of a duly qualified individual to have authority to make decisions which the minor is unable to make due to the age restrictions of Virginia law (age 18).  Guardianship of the property of a minor authorizes a duly appointed guardian to handle the financial assets to which the minor is entitled or may become entitled until the minor reaches age 18.  Minors in Virginia are recognized as lacking legal capacity to hold title to property. Therefore a guardianship of the property of the minor is required if the minor inherits as a result of the death of a parent or some other individual who has left property to the minor or the minor is to receive money as a result of a civil lawsuit involving the death of a parent or injury to the minor.

Ordinarily, the appointment of a guardian for the property of a minor is conducted without the necessity of a Court hearing before the Clerk of the Henrico County Circuit Court.  An appointment should be made with the Clerk’s office (804-501-4316) or (804-501-4763) and the necessary guardianship forms completed prior to the designated time for the appointment with the Clerk’s office.   (Application for Appointment) The person seeking qualification as guardian of the property of a minor will qualify before the Clerk, give bond in an amount determined by the Clerk to be sufficient to cover the value of the assets of a minor, and in most cases will be required to give surety for the bond.  Surety is the promise of a corporate bonding company to restore for the minor any funds or assets lost as a result of the wrongful action of the guardian of the property.  The guardianship surety charges a premium, paid at one time or in annual installments, until the child reaches age 18.  This is a proper charge against the estate of the minor.

The qualification of a guardian of the property of a minor may have to be made by petition to the Henrico County Circuit Court.  If there is a contest between individuals seeking appointment as the guardian of the property of the minor, a Court hearing may be required, but this is normally not the case.  This may also be necessary where a personal injury settlement is approved by the Henrico Circuit Court under which settlement the minor receives a monetary settlement.

The Office of the Commissioner of Accounts has no jurisdiction with respect to guardianships of the person of a minor.  Guardianship of the person involves decisions such as where the minor lives, where the minor goes to school, the medical treatment necessary for the minor and such further personal decisions which may be necessitated in the absence of a natural parent.  If a natural parent is living and is otherwise fit as a parent, there is generally no need for the guardianship of the person of a minor. If the Guardian of the person of the minor is different from the Guardian of the property of the minor there should be close cooperation between the two to satisfy the financial needs of the minor. The Commissioner's office should be involved in these financial decisions to insure that the pattern of disbursement of the minor's funds is appropriate.