As people age, they may need a guardian or conservator who can make decisions for them or manage their affairs if they are unable to do so. A guardianship and conservatorship are used for similar purposes; however, they are not the same.
Guardianship and conservatorship overview
If a person is incapacitated, a guardian can help them with their personal and healthcare needs. This involves making decisions for them including medical treatment and housing. Guardianship is determined by a court.
The court will review whether a guardianship is necessary. It will also determine the extent of the guardian’s decision-making authority and will have oversight over the guardian to ensure they are acting in the incapacitated person’s best interests.
A conservatorship addresses financial and legal affairs for a person who cannot manage these items. The conservator may be responsible for paying bills, protecting assets and collecting income. The conservator’s powers are limited to financial matters. As with guardianship, the court may require ongoing oversight to ensure proper management of the person’s assets.
To request a guardianship or conservatorship, the first step is to file a petition with the court. The petitioner must provide notice to interested parties, including the incapacitated person and other people who have an interest in the outcome.
The court will hold a hearing to consider evidence and if it finds that the guardianship or conservatorship should be in place, it will approve the request.
Guardianships and conservatorships can be complex and they are specific to the individual’s needs.