Guardianship / Conservatorship

Q:        What is a Guardian?

A: A guardian is appointed to make the personal decisions for the ward.  The guardian has decision making authority for matters such as choice of place to live, medical decisions, training and education, etc.

Q:        What is a Conservator?

A: A conservator is appointed to make financial decisions for the protected person.  The   conservator typically has the power to contract, to pay bills, invest assets, and perform other financial functions for the protected person.

Q:        When is a Guardian/Conservator needed?

A: A guardianship is necessary when an individual who, for reasons other than being a minor, is impaired to the extent of lacking sufficient understanding or capacity to make or communicate responsible personal decisions, and who has demonstrated deficits in behavior which evidence an inability to meet personal needs for medical care, nutrition, clothing, shelter, or safety, even with appropriate technological assistance

A conservator is necessary when an individual who, for reasons other than being a minor, is impaired to the extent of lacking sufficient understanding or capacity to make or communicate responsible personal decisions, and who has demonstrated deficits in behavior which evidence an inability to meet personal needs for medical care, nutrition, clothing, shelter, or safety, even with appropriate technological assistance.

Q:        How is a Guardianship/Conservatorship Established?

A: A conservatorship or guardianship is established through a legal action, or proceeding.  The person who files a petition with the court requesting that a conservatorship or guardianship be established is the petitioner.  In this proceeding, the court orders the appointment of a person (a conservator or guardian) to act as a decision maker for another person (the protected person or ward).  The court bases this decision on clear and convincing evidence that the protected person or ward has been found to be unable to make necessary decisions on his or her own behalf.   The court calls this making a finding of incapacity. Guardianship or conservatorship should only be sought if the individual’s judgment or decision making is a major threat to the individual’s welfare.

Q:        Does the Court oversee the Guardianship/Conservatorship?

A: The Court will continue to supervise the Guardianship/Conservatorship through the submission of annual reports that the Guardian/Conservator must file.