Choosing a guardianship or conservatorship

On Behalf of | May 30, 2023 | Family Law |

When a person is unable to care for themselves or make decisions, they may need a guardianship or conservatorship. While these terms are sometimes used interchangeably, there are differences between them.

Understanding the differences

Both guardianships and conservatorships are legal arrangements where a person or entity manages the affairs of someone else who is unable to do so.

With a guardianship, the court appoints a guardian to make personal decisions. These are usually related to health care, housing, or other personal matters. Guardianships may also be granted in situations with minors or for individuals who are incapacitated.

With a conservatorship, the court appoints a conservator to manage the financial affairs of another person. This often includes paying bills, managing investments or making other financial decisions on their behalf. Conservatorships may be used for adults who cannot manage their finances because of disability, age or other related reasons.

These roles are not exclusive. In some cases, the court may appoint both a guardian and a conservator and it may be the same person.

Obtaining a guardianship or conservatorship

In both arrangements, the first step is to file a petition with the county where the person who needs assistance resides. It should include information about the person who needs a guardian or conservator, who the proposed guardian or conservator is and the reasons why it is necessary.

The court will appoint a guardian ad litem to review the evidence and make a recommendation to the court. If the court agrees that the guardianship or conservatorship is necessary, it will hold a hearing and will issue a court order appointing the guardian or conservator.

The court order contains specific responsibilities, which include decision making and filing annual reports with the court.