Guardianship and Conservatorship

A woman, showing an older woman information about proper incapacity planning on her phone.Sometimes, we all need a little help. In an ideal world, we would all have a pre-built safety net of friends and loved ones. Unfortunately, our world is far from ideal. More than 1/3 of Americans don’t have their estate planning taken care of. This includes incapacity planning. In skipping this important step, they have put themselves and loved ones at risk for going through the process of obtaining a Guardianship or Conservatorship.

Both of these terms have gotten a bad reputation in recent years. At their core, both are tools intended to help someone take care of another person. Like any tool they can be misused. Despite their differences, Guardianships and Conservatorships are also frequently confused for each other.

A Guardian is appointed by the court to make decisions for someone who cannot speak or care for themselves. This is typically done at the behest of a friend or family member who is attempting to care for an incapacitated individual. An individual can be named as a Guardian of person (for health purposes), estate (for financial purposes), or both.

A Conservator is typically done at the behest of the individual in question. They can hold the same restrictions as Guardianships (being limited to person or estate). Though they are fairly similar, there’s been one major conservatorship case in recent memory that many people remember. The abuse in that situation was clear, and it has resulted in many people steering clear of this valuable avenue.

Guardianships and Conservatorships are very similar. Both are court-ordered control over another person’s life and livelihood. Typically, these are done to ensure the continued care of an adult who is no longer able to care for themselves. Both are done through Probate Court and will likely involve a trial to be established. They also both greatly reduce the freedom of the individual, turning them into a ward of the Guardian or Conservator. Until the mandate is lifted, they will have the same rights as a minor child.

Naturally, both routes should be considered a last resort. It is always better to plan for the future and handle these matters using incapacity planning documents. If you or a loved one is ready to take this step, or you need to obtain a Guardianship or Conservatorship, give our offices a call today at 419-352-7522

Categories: Blog