Guardianship & Conservatorship
When individuals are unable to handle their own affairs, they need someone to act on their behalf. Whether the individual is a minor or an incapacitated adult due to illness or injury, such individual likely will need a representative to assist them in making decisions concerning their finances, health care, and general wellbeing. Becoming a guardian and/or conservator for a loved one enables you to be that representative.
The basic difference between those two terms is that a guardian represents the person’s body, and a conservator represents the person’s property.
A guardian is granted custody and control over the person of an incapacitated individual (“ward”) by the court. Guardians are responsible for making sure the ward has adequate medical attention, an acceptable place to live, sufficient nutrition, and so on.
A conservator is granted control over the financial and property matters for an incapacitated individual, such as paying their bills, filing taxes, determining a budget for the ward, taking care of the ward’s investments, managing their property, etc.
Once a guardian and/or conservator is appointed, the ward loses the right to make decisions concerning herself and her financial matters. The rights removed from the ward are significant. So, the court will not remove them without ensuring that the ward really needs assistance and that all the legal requirements have been met. The guardianship and conservatorship process is therefore complex and time-consuming, and few people should go through it alone.
Before you file, Cook & Tolley, LLP can help you understand this process and determine whether and when you should file for guardianship / conservatorship. Our attorneys can also help you through the guardianship and conservatorship process itself.