Some issues involving the elderly and disabled can only be resolved through the court system. Types of issues which may require judicial intervention include:
Contested guardianship and conservatorship: When families cannot agree who should be in charge of the elderly or disabled person's money or who should decide where they who will live and what medical treatment they will receive, the decision can be made by a judge or jury.
Financial accounting: A third party often is in charge of an elderly or disabled person's money, as their agent (attorney-in-fact), trustee or conservator. If there is a concern that the third party is not acting appropriately, through a lawsuit, an agent/trustee/conservator can be forced to account for how they have managed the assets under their control. If they have acted inappropriately, in breach of their fiduciary duty to the senior/disabled person, a judge can remove them and put someone else in charge of the money.
Financial abuse: Sometimes the person who is in control of the elderly or disabled person's money acts improperly by spending the money on themselves or by not managing the money appropriately. Elderly people are more vulnerable to undue influence, which is where they are pressured into making gifts or payments they would not have made otherwise, and fraud, where they are tricked out of their money. A lawsuit can be used to try to recover some of the stolen assets.
Physical/psychological abuse: Seniors and disabled persons also can be the victims of physical, sexual and emotional or psychological abuse by their caregiver and/or family member. The judicial system can be used to protect the abused person.
Nursing homes: Residents of nursing homes sadly sometimes are the victims of abuse and neglect by the staff of the nursing home, resulting in injury or even death. Through the courts, damages to compensate the senior or disabled person can be sought.
Trust reformation/modification: Trusts are often used to manage the assets of an elderly or disabled person. But there can come a time when the trust does not work as intended because of a change in circumstances or laws affecting the beneficiary or there could be a mistake in the way the trust was written. Through a court action the trust can be reformed or modified. A court action also can be used to authorize combing two or more trusts with the same beneficiary.
Will contests: A Last Will and Testament of a deceased person can be challenged in a proceeding to impeach the Will. Grounds for impeaching a will included forgery (the deceased person did not sign the Will) and undue influence (the Will provisions resulted from pressure from another person and do not reflect the decedent's intent).
Elective Share Claim: Under Virginia law, if you are married, you must leave at least some of your estate to your surviving spouse, unless you have a marital agreement where you waived this right. If your spouse does not provide for you in their Will or trust, you can use the courts to make an elective share claim against their estate and receive your rightful inheritance.