The terms “guardianship” and “conservatorship” are often used interchangeably. While they are both labels given to a party who is granted authority to act for somebody else (the “ward”), they have different meanings. A guardian or conservator is appointed by a judge.
A guardianship is comparable to the parent-child relationship, but the guardian is not legally responsible for the acts of the ward. Additionally, the guardian is not required to use his or her own money to provide for the ward. A guardianship is typically granted when the ward is mentally incapacitate or is otherwise no longer capable of taking care of him or herself. A guardian can be appointed to care for a child or adult.
In the order appointing a guardian, the court will set forth whether the authority is limited or full. If it is a limited guardianship, the guardian only has the power to make decisions about certain things. If the guardian is given full authority or a plenary guardianship, he or she can make decisions about all aspects of the ward’s life.
A conservatorship is similar to a guardianship, but it only grants the appointee the authority to manage the ward’s property and finances. A conservator is not able to make personal decisions for the ward. Only guardians have the ability to make decisions such as where the ward will live, the medical treatment the ward receives, how to meet the wards daily needs, and other similar decisions.
Both guardians and conservators are required to file reports with the court. Reports by guardians must inform the court of the ward’s status every year. A conservator’s initial report must include an inventory of all of the ward’s assets and each yearly report must contain an accounting of the ward’s estate. Failure to file a required report with the court or making a substantial misrepresentation in a report can result in a hefty fine.
If you are interested in learning more about being appointed as a guardian or conservator for a loved one, call us to schedule an appointment. The Astill Law Office has provided high quality legal services for over 30 years. We specialize in wills, trusts, estate planning, and asset protection. If you have any questions about creating a Trust, Will, or estate planning in general, contact The Astill Law Office at 801-438-8698.