Guardianship & Conservatorship

Guardians and conservators help manage personal and financial matters for those who can’t speak for themselves. The probate court oversees the process to ensure that the person in charge acts in the best interest of the person they are caring for.

guardianship

What is the Difference Between Guardianship and Conservatorship?

Guardianship is a legal relationship whereby the probate court gives one person (the guardian) the power to make personal decisions for another (the ward). A conservatorship is a legal relationship where the Probate Court gives one person (the conservator) the power to make financial decisions for another (the protectee). Most often, the guardian and conservator are the same person.

Guardians

Guardianship is appropriate when impaired judgment or capacity poses a major threat to a person’s physical welfare. A medical evaluation by a licensed physician is necessary to establish the proposed ward’s condition. However, only a court can determine the need for a guardian.

Guardians are responsible for ensuring the physical health and safety of their wards. They can make medical appointments and decisions, arrange for personal care services, and advocate for the ward with doctors and healthcare providers.

Conservators

A conservator may be appropriate when there is concern that someone is being exploited financially due to mental or physical incapacity. Again, only a court can determine the need for a conservator and appoint one if necessary.

Conservators are responsible for ensuring the financial well-being of their protectee. A conservator may buy and sell property on the protectees’ behalf, manage their financial accounts, pay their bills, and collect debts on their behalf.

The Process

In order for the probate court to authorize a guardian and / or conservator to act on behalf of someone who is incapable of caring for themselves, there must be proof of incapacity. This may include letters from doctors, friends, family, financial advisors and other evidence showing that the person in question can no longer care for themselves and / or their finances.

If the court appoints a guardian and / or conservator, those agents must regularly report to the court and account for the welfare and expenditures of the ward or protectee's finances. This process can be time consuming and expensive.

There are ways to prevent probate court and the guardianship or conservatorship process if you or a loved one should become incapacitated in the future. Check out our page on Powers of Attorney for more information on how to possibly avoid this time consuming, stressful process.

If you think your loved one needs a guardian and/or conservator, we can help. It is important to note that we will need to have a letter of incapacity from your loved one's physician before we can schedule your appointment.

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