Some family members need a guardian for a relative who suffers from mental or physical impairment and is incapable of self-care, and perhaps for a while, the chosen guardian fulfills that role with no problem. However, some families find that a guardian is not able to continue to care for their relative or perhaps the guardian is willfully abusing his or her position. If you suspect there is a problem with a guardian, West Virginia law provides for a number of scenarios under which a guardian may be removed.

Medical issues may cause a person to no longer be able to care for a ward. An illness or a car accident can cost a lot of money in medical bills, degrading the guardian’s ability to spend on a dependent, or the accident could physically disable the guardian for a prolonged period of time, perhaps permanently. Substance abuse may also disqualify a guardian. In general, if someone simply cannot handle the responsibility of guardianship, a court will allow that person to be removed.

State law also makes clear that a person who abuses the position of a guardian can be removed. This can include the neglect of the ward or any legal dependent in the guardian’s care. If the guardian is in charge of an estate, waste or destruction of the estate assets or other mismanagement may also serve as grounds for removal. The state also permits a person to challenge a guardian even on the risk that the guardian may not perform the duties required.

Some guardians may end up convicted of a crime unrelated to their duties as a guardian, which can require them to serve a prison sentence. If so, the guardian can no longer take care of a ward. However, even if the crime does not result in time in prison, the crime could reflect poorly on the guardian’s fitness that someone could appeal to a court that the person should not be allowed to continue to serve as a guardian.

In some cases a court may remove a guardian because the guardian does not comply with court procedure. These may involve a guardian not filing sufficient bond once ordered to do so by a court, or not producing the proper accountings or reports at the request of the court. In fact, a court may replace a guardian for any failure to fulfill a court order.

Since guardianship and conservatorship issues can greatly vary, do not consider this article as offering legal advice. It is only intended to provide information on the topic of guardianship removal in West Virginia.