Conservatorships & Guardianships
When a mental incapacity or serious disability renders a person incapable of caring for their own well-being or managing their personal finances, they may be appointed a conservator. The conservator’s role is to manage the conservatee’s personal and financial affairs; often assuming control of the individual’s medical treatment and meeting their day-to-day needs. Depending on the severity of the situation, the court may expand the conservator’s duties to include management of the conservatee’s estate, which tasks the conservator with the proper management of the conservatee’s assets, expenses, investments, and general financial well-being.
What’s the Difference Between a General Conservatorship and a Limited Conservatorship?
A General Conservatorship is most common in cases where an individual’s mental or physical capacity has been diminished due to old age, severe physical trauma, or mental illness. A General Conservatorship provides the conservator with broader control over the individual’s care, which is determined on a case-by-case basis.
A Limited Conservatorship is less exhaustive and is generally sought to assist adults with severe and chronic developmental disabilities. In this scenario, the conservator steps in to help guide and support the conservatee, with the goal of preserving the conservatee’s independence and self-sufficiency. The courts recognize that many adults with developmental disabilities are able to do many things on their own and are careful to give the conservator control only over the things that the conservatee cannot do themselves.
Guardianships are designed to provide for the care of children under the age of eighteen whose parents have passed away or are otherwise unable to provide for their care. In a guardianship case, the court will appoint a legal guardian to assume the role as parent and caretaker until the child turns eighteen. Guardians typically handle decisions relating to custody, the child’s daily needs, and – in some cases – managing the child’s estate.