Guardianship and Conservatorship are often associated with estate planning because there are two groups of people who are likely to be involved in a guardianship or conservatorship: the elderly and minor children who lose their parents. Guardianship and conservatorship are a legal process designed to protect individuals who are not legally competent to care for their selves and their own interests either due to their age or due to incapacity.
A guardian has the ability to make decisions for their ward’s physical care and a conservator for their financial interests. While there can be one or two people assigned to these roles, guardianship is generally split into two categories, physical and financial.
The person who is appointed guardian of a ward is responsible for meeting their physical and personal needs, making sure they receive food, shelter, clothing, education, medical care, and anything else the individual needs including in-home nursing care, transfer to the appropriate facility, end of life care, or other support. The guardian is expected to consider the ward’s wishes as well as their needs and best interests, though this is a different consideration for children than for adults. This guardianship continues until a minor turns 18 or until the person dies, is no longer incapacitated, or the court appoints a new guardian.
When there is a substantial financial interest belonging to the minor, incapacitated, or elderly person, then the court will also appoint someone to be the conservator of their assets. This can be the same person as the guardian or a different person. Until the assets are depleted, the minor reaches legal age, or the person dies or is no longer incapacity, the conservator makes all the financial decisions. This may mean giving the guardian a stipend to handle ongoing care and approving major expenses before they happen. They can also help arrange for needed medical services, monitor the care and living conditions of the individual, and provide, if resources allow, for larger expenses as needed.
Establishing guardianshipor conservatorship is a legal process where the court considers the wishes of the individual or parents in question as well as the best interests of the person under protection. For children, the parents can name who they would want to be guardianof their children in their will. . Aging parents, meanwhile, may find that their children slowly step in to help them make care decisions and eventually petition the court for the right to do so full time.
The team at Dunn Law Firm works regularly to help conserve estates and put in place processes to ensure minors, incapacitated adults, and the very elderly have the care and support they need to continue having happy and valuable lives. To learn more, reach out to the Dunn Law Firm by calling (435) 628-5405 to set up a free consultation today.