Guardianships & Conservatorships
Despite the best attempts at planning, sometimes a guardianship/conservatorship is necessary when an individual has lost sufficient functional capacity to make or communicate significant, responsible decisions about his or her health and safety.
Resistance to offers of help and guidance from friends and family to apparent improper nutrition, failure or refusal to take prescription medications, hoarding, and poor personal hygiene are indicators that a guardianship/conservatorship may be necessary. The process of petitioning the local probate court to protect an individual at risk is called a “Guardianship.”
Similarly, the process of petitioning the court to protect an individual’s assets is called a “Conservatorship.” A conservatorship may be necessary when an individual can no longer make financial transactions or decisions for himself. They may have lost functional capacity and can no longer make financial decisions, are making bad financial choices due to a form of dementia or perhaps are being financially exploited by another individual or family member.
John Burns Estate & Elder Care Law has a wealth of experience helping families in this painful and emotional time.
Anyone can serve as a Guardian with the exception of minors and persons who have a conflict of interest with the adult. There is an order of preference that the court follows when appointing a Guardian or Conservator. A person chosen by the adult has first preference, followed by a spouse, an adult child and a parent.
The Guardian or Conservator is empowered by the court to make decisions regarding the Ward’s support, care, education, health and welfare. The basic power of a Conservator is to receive, collect and make decisions about the property of the Ward. Of course, the Guardian and Conservator, to the extent possible, should encourage the Ward to participate in decision making. In some instances, immediate action is required due to an emergency in which the individual is in immediate risk of death or serious physical injury. In that even, the court may appoint and emergency Guardian or Conservator who will serve until a permanent Guardian or Conservator can be appointed.