Conservatorship vs Guardianship

Conservatorship vs Guardianship

Most adults make countless independent decisions in their lifetime. There could come a time, however, when someone becomes incapable of making decisions on their own. Situations such as illnesses, accidents, or mental conditions can sometimes render an individual unable to make important decisions regarding their health, family, or financial wellbeing. In these cases, conservatorships and guardianships are often necessary, but it’s important to understand the differences between the two. Here’s a brief rundown of a conservatorship vs guardianship and what types of situations it may be appropriate to employ them.

The Basics of Both Conservatorships and Guardianships

Both conservatorships and guardianships are legal actions put in place so an incapacitated person’s estate can be managed. Regardless of the exact reasons why the person is unable to handle their own estate, a court appoints another person to act as the decision maker. Conservatorships and guardianships do differ, however, in what exactly that person is tasked with managing.

Conservatorships

Guardianships vs ConservatorshipsWhen an individual is incapacitated in some way, a conservatorship places control of that person’s finances in the hands of another. The person placed in charge is expected to act on the behalf of the incapacitated person’s best interest.

There are several different situations that may require a conservatorship to be put in place. These include (but are not limited to):

  • A sudden and severe illness
  • A chronic and progressive illness that results in incapacitation (such as dementia)
  • An individual with a condition such as cerebral palsy who cannot care for their estate as an adult

Whatever the reason for the change of responsibility regarding one’s estate may be, there are different types of conservatorships that may be used.

Conservatorship of Person

Conservatorship vs Guardianship informationFocused on health and lifestyle, conservatorship of person allows an appointed individual power to make decisions for the wellbeing of another. This could involve an elderly parent who is no longer capable of making health-related decisions. In that situation, a child of the individual may be granted conservatorship so they can arrange for nursing home care or something similar.

Conservatorship of Estate

Focused on financial matters, conservatorship of estate allows an appointed individual power to make decisions regarding an incapacitated person’s money matters. Like conservatorship of person, a child may be appointed to make financial decision such as paying bills and managing funds for an elderly parent who is unable to do so.

Joint Conservatorship

A joint conservatorship could be a conservatorship of estate or conservatorship of person, but it involves two people who are appointed conservatorship instead of one (such as two children of a parent in either of the above examples).

Guardianships

Guardianship DetailsThere are many similarities between conservatorships and guardianships, but a main difference is the age of the person in question. In guardianship, the person (or people) being cared for are typically minors. It’s important to note, however, that guardianship doesn’t involve any parental rights; the person appointed as guardian is only tasked with managing the child’s or children’s care and finances. When a guardianship is appointed (typically in probate court), parents of the child or children maintain parental rights.

There are several different situations that may require a guardianship to be put in place. These include (but are not limited to):

  • The rights of parents are terminated
  • A court decides a guardianship is necessary
  • A child or children’s parent or parents consent to guardianship

Like conservatorships, a guardianship may be put into place for an adult for several reasons (many of which are the same as a conservatorship):

  • A sudden and severe illness
  • A chronic and progressive illness that results in incapacitation (such as dementia)
  • An individual with a condition such as cerebral palsy who cannot care for their estate as an adult
  • An adult exhibits harmful behavior either to themselves or others

Conservatorship Guardianship DifferencesTemporary Guardianship

There are some situations in which parents may find themselves unable to care for their children in a temporary manner. In these cases, temporary guardianship may be put into place, so the children involved have a competent guardian. Parents in the military may designate a temporary guardian to care for their children while they’re posted overseas.

Differences by State

There are no blanket applications of conservatorships and guardianships. Because each state may have different legal rules and requirements for both situations, it’s important to consult with a legal professional before making any decisions regarding your or someone else’s estate or health. Depending on the particulars of the adult or child in question, either a conservatorship and guardianship may be the appropriate course of action to take and will help manage the situation for the betterment of all involved.

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