Our attorneys frequently represent clients in petitioning the court to appoint a guardian and/or conservator over a loved one as well as informing clients on the responsibilities of these roles.
A guardian is a person or institution appointed by a court to make decisions about the care of another, who is sometimes referred to as the ward. A conservator is a person or institution appointed by the court to manage the property and financial affairs of a ward. Sometimes the same person is appointed to both roles. If no conservator is appointed, the guardian has some of the responsibilities of a conservator.
To establish a guardianship or conservatorship, a petition is filed with the court. Notice must be given to all interested persons, which would include a spouse and the children of the protected person. An attorney must be appointed to represent the ward during the proceeding to appoint a guardian. It may also be necessary to appoint a court visitor to meet with the ward.
A guardianship may be necessary for a person who is impaired due to mental illness, mental deficiency, physical illness or disability, chronic drug use, or chronic intoxication and lacks sufficient understanding or capacity to make or communicate responsible decisions.
A guardianship may be granted when the ward’s decision making process is so impaired the ward cannot attend to and provide basic necessities, such as food, shelter, clothing, medical care, or personal safety.
A conservator is a fiduciary for the ward’s assets with the responsibility of using reasonable care, skill, and caution to manage, protect, and invest such assets. A conservator can be a family member, trust company, or other professional fiduciary. Before a conservator is appointed, the court must find that the proposed ward has assets or income that may be wasted or dissipated if a conservator is not appointed.