Guardianship and Conservatorship

As family members age, there is a growing need to make sure that their wellbeing and property are protected.  But guardianships and conservatorships are not just for aging senior citizens, they may be helpful tools to protect the interests of anyone who may have mental or physical hardships.    

What’s the difference between a guardianship and a conservatorship?

A guardian is put in place to protect an individual's (the "Ward') personal affairs.  A guardian's powers are often limited to be as least restrictive to the Ward's personal freedom as necessary to protect his or her wellbeing.  A guardian's powers can include but are not limited to the following:

  • Have custody of the Ward and establish the place of abode for the Ward within or without of the State.
  • Provide for the Ward's care, comfort, and maintenance needs.
  • Take reasonable care of the Ward's clothing, furniture, vehicles, and other personal effects.
  • Give any necessary consent to enable, or to withhold consent for, the Ward to receive necessary medical or other professional care, counsel, treatment, or service.
  • Approve or withhold approval of any contract, except for necessities, which the Ward may make or wish to make (only if no Conservator is appointed, see below).
  • Exercise  supervision authority over the Ward.
  • Apply on behalf of the Ward for any assistance, services, or other benefits available to the Ward through any unit of government (only if no Conservator is appointed, see below).
  • Any other power the Court may deem appropriate under the circumstances.

A Conservator may also be appointed to handle the Ward's financial affairs.  The Conservator (who may be the same person/entity as the Guardian) is responsible for manage the Ward's assets, bills, property, and make investment decisions.  Depending on the assets involved, the Court may order the Conservator to be bonded to insure that the assets are protected.