Guardianship & Conservatorship

Do you know who will make important decisions that affect your life if you become disabled? If not, you are putting yourself and your family at risk of being left to the mercy of the courts to make those decisions for you. In cases when this becomes necessary, and depending on the details specific to your case, the courts will designate the following roles:

A guardian is someone who has legal authority over a child, under the age of 18, whose parents cannot provide care due to death, incapacity, or other circumstances. The need for a guardian may also arise if the child receives an inheritance or settlement of a certain amount of money. In this situation, the guardian will oversee the funds for the child until the child reaches age 18 or the court orders that the funds may be released. The law distinguishes between guardians of the property and guardians of the person, and it is possible that a person may serve in both capacities for a child.

As with guardianships, it is possible for the court to appoint a conservator of the property and/or conservator of the person. Cases like this occur when a person is unable to make decisions independently, for example: due to a stroke or dementia. The court will grant a person with power to make decisions about a person's health care choices, finances, or a combination of the two. Typically, the need for a conservatorship arises when an individual does not have a predesignated durable power of attorney or healthcare power of attorney.

Our firm strongly recommends legally establishing the desires of your family in advance with a comprehensive estate plan, which can include identifying a guardian for children, creating an advanced healthcare plan, and appointing a healthcare agent. However, if the need should arise to seek court appointment of a guardian or conservator, we can help.