A guardianship, or legal guardian, is a person who has authority to make legal decisions and is responsible for providing for the care of someone else. A Conservatorship, or conservator, is a person appointed to handle the financial affairs of an incapacitated adult. In many cases a guardian and conservator are often the same person, but can also be two different people.
An adult guardianship may be put in place for adults who do not have the legal capacity to care for themselves, which can be for many reasons. In some circumstances, a parent of a disabled child may need to obtain an adult guardianship to continue providing for the daily care of his or her disabled child once the child reaches adulthood. In other circumstances, an elderly parent may need a legal guardian to help manage their daily affairs and care when their health and ability to do so diminishes with age and other medical conditions. In other circumstances an adult may become incapacitated to the extent he or she cannot provide for their own financial affair or daily care due to an illness or accident in adulthood.
Sometimes a Guardianship and/or Conservatorship can be avoided by preparing ahead of time, prior to the legal incapacity (which refers to the mental capacity to understand legal rights) by executing a Durable Power of Attorney. A Durable Power of Attorney could serve to keep the matter out of court, but must be signed while the adult has the legal capacity to understand the rights he or she is giving up or awarding to another. If there is no valid Durable Power of Attorney once the incapacity has occurred then a formal Petition for a Guardianship and/or Conservatorship may be necessary.
While many families often step up to take on the care responsibilities for a disabled/impaired adult on an informal basis, a legal guardianship and conservatorship may be required to perform certain caretaking tasks and responsibilities or make decisions for the person being cared for. If you are providing daily care for a loved one a legal guardianship may be necessary to ensure that you continue in that care-taking roll and ensure that your loved one has all the legal safeguards due to him or her to ensure his or her proper daily care and financial future.
At Schmeltzer Law, I can help you to determine if a guardianship and/or conservatorship is right for your family’s needs, and assist in navigating the court system to help you meet your legal goals for your family.