Every local or regional program with which the Department contracts to provide services as a public guardian or conservator shall (i) furnish bond with corporate surety in an amount deemed sufficient by the Department to afford adequate financial protection to the maximum number of incapacitated persons to be served by the program; (ii) have in place a multidisciplinary panel to (a) screen cases for the purpose of ensuring that appointment of a guardian or conservator is appropriate under the circumstances and is the least restrictive alternative available to assist the incapacitated person and (b) continually review cases being handled by the program as required by the Department; (iii) accept only appointments as guardian or conservator that generate no fee or would generate a minimal fee as defined by regulation payable from a public source of funds and not from the estate of the incapacitated person; (iv) have a direct service staff to client ratio that is consistent with that specified by regulation of the Department; and (v) develop a plan, in consultation with the local circuit court and sheriffs, where appropriate, to provide advance notice to the court when the program falls below or exceeds the ideal range of staff to client ratios in order to assure continuity of services. Volunteers shall not be counted for purposes of ascertaining compliance with the staff to client ratio specified by the Department.A local or regional program that exceeds the specified staff to client ratio shall not be disqualified from serving as a guardian or conservator except as provided by regulation or if the court or the Department finds that there is an immediate threat to the person or property of any incapacitated person or that exceeding the specified ratio is having or will have a material and adverse effect on the ability of the program to properly serve all of the incapacitated persons it has been designated to serve.A local or regional program appointed as a guardian or conservator shall have all the powers and duties specified in Article 2 (§ 64.2-2019 et seq.) of Chapter 20 of Title 64.2, except as otherwise specifically limited by the court. In addition, a public guardian or conservator shall have a continuing duty to seek a proper and suitable person who is willing and able to serve as guardian or conservator for the incapacitated person. A public guardian or conservator shall have authority to make arrangements for the funeral and disposition of remains, including cremation, interment, entombment, memorialization, inurnment, or scattering of the cremains, or some combination thereof, if the public guardian or conservator is not aware of any person that has been otherwise designated to make such arrangements as set forth in § 54.1-2825. A public guardian or conservator shall have authority to make arrangements for the funeral and disposition of remains after the death of an incapacitated person if, after the public guardian or conservator has made a good faith effort to locate the next of kin of the incapacitated person to determine if the next of kin wishes to make such arrangements, the next of kin does not wish to make the arrangements or the next of kin cannot be located. Good faith effort shall include contacting the next of kin identified in the petition for appointment of a guardian or conservator. The funeral service licensee, funeral service establishment, registered crematory, cemetery, cemetery operator, public guardian or conservator shall be immune from civil liability for any act, decision, or omission resulting from acceptance of any dead body for burial, cremation, or other disposition when the provisions of this section are met, unless such acts, decisions, or omissions resulted from bad faith or malicious intent.A public guardian shall not have authority to approve or authorize a sterilization procedure except when specific authority has been given pursuant to a proceeding in the circuit court. A public guardian may authorize admission of an incapacitated person to a mental health facility as provided in subsection B of § 37.2-805.1 and may authorize mental health treatment, including the administration of psychotropic medication, unless the appointing court specifically provides otherwise.A local or regional program appointed as a guardian or conservator may delegate the powers, duties, and responsibilities to individual volunteers or professional staff as authorized in the contract with the Department.In addition to funds received from the Department, a local or regional program may accept private funds solely for the purposes of providing public education, supplemental services for incapacitated persons, and support services for private guardians and conservators, consistent with the purposes of this article.
1998, c. 787, § 2.1-373.14; 2001, c. 844, § 2.2-713; 2006, c. 854; 2010, c. 792; 2012, cc. 463, 803, 835.