The appointment of a Guardian or Conservator is a significant legal step that authorizes the appointed Guardian and/or Conservator to make decisions on behalf of someone else, called the ward.
In many cases, good planning can help eliminate the need for a court-appointed guardian or conservator. When the appointment of a Guardian and Conservator becomes necessary, however, it is important to talk to any attorney who understands the important issues involved.
What is a Guardian?
A guardian is authorized by the court to make important decisions on behalf of the ward, including decisions about about the ward’s health, what medical treatment the ward will receive, what school the ward will attend, and even what social and religious activities in which the ward might participate.
When it is necessary to appoint a guardian over a minor child, the courts will often give very serious consideration to the expressed wishes of the child’s parents. For this reason, many parents choose to include a provision in their Will that appoints a trusted family member or friend as the potential guardian for their child.
Sometimes it may also be necessary to appoint a guardian over an incapacitated adult.
What is a Conservator?
Unlike a Guardian who is authorized to make decisions regarding the health and living arrangements of the ward, a Conservator is authorized to manage the ward’s financial affairs. A conservator has authority to manage bank accounts, stocks and bonds, real estate, insurance policies, and other personal property. A conservator is also responsible for filing the ward’s tax returns.
In some cases, the court will authorize a single person to act as both the Guardian and Conservator for a ward. In other cases, the court will appoint one person to serve as Guardian and another person to serve as Conservator. It is also possible for the court to appoint either a Conservator and not a Guardian or a Guardian and not a Conservator.
Regardless of the situation, both Guardians and Conservators have strict responsibilities to act in the best interest of the ward. If you have any questions and would like to speak with an attorney regarding the appointment or service of a Guardian and/or Conservator, contact us.
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