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Judicial Branch, State of New Hampshire

For Immediate Release:
April 8, 2020

Circuit Court to Expedite
 Emergency Guardianship over Adults Petitions during COVID-19 Crisis

Electronic filings to be heard within 48 hours

CONCORD – Given the anticipated surge in critical care patients with COVID-19, the Circuit Court announced today that it has developed temporary protocols for the electronic filing for an emergency expedited guardianship petition over an adult. Using either telephonic or videoconference services, the Circuit Court-Probate Division will now provide a limited number of hearings within a 48-hour period to determine when a guardianship appointment is necessary to make medical decisions for an incapacitated adult.

The Administrative Judge of the Circuit Court, David D. King, commented on the reason behind the temporary protocols, “The Court determined that with the unique threats COVID-19 poses, including extended hospital stays for patients in critical condition, the usual approximately 15-day interval from the filing of a petition to an expedited  final hearing may not be appropriate. We anticipate situations where acute care facilities need to quickly discharge a patient, who may lack capacity, to another facility or to get emergency medical decisions made for severely compromised patients.”

King added, “Particular care has been taken to develop a process to quickly address the unique health challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, while ensuring meaningful notice and an opportunity for all those so entitled to be heard.”

If during the emergency process the petitioner is unable to present sufficient evidence for the judge to make an informed decision, the hearings will be rescheduled to follow the normal course rather an emergency one. These protocols are effective during the limited period New Hampshire is under a State of Emergency and will expire when the current State of Emergency declaration is lifted.

For more information on the temporary protocols and the Judicial Branch’s response to COVID-19, see: https://www.courts.state.nh.us/aoc/corona-covid-19.html.


Media Contact:
Tammy Jackson
Communications Assistant
NH Judicial Branch
One Charles Doe Drive
Concord, NH 03301