Guardianships and Conservatorships

What is a guardianship?

A guardianship is a court proceeding where someone is appointed (ordered) by the Court to manage the personal affairs of another. The ward (the person who needs assistance) can be a minor, an adult who is incapacitated, or an adult with a developmental disability. Although the person who is requesting to be the ward’s representative is often a family member, the proposed Guardian may be a professional when there are areas of conflict. The appointed representative (the “Guardian”) is generally the person who will direct where the ward will reside, manage the ward’s medical affairs, and determine what types of care the ward requires.

What is a conservatorship?

A conservatorship is a proceeding similar to a guardianship, however, the management is of the wards assets, not of their medical or personal affairs.

We have extensive experience handling:
 Guardianship and Conservatorship of Adults
 Guardianship of Minors
 Conservatorship of Minors and Minors’ Compromises
 Guardianship of Adults with Developmental Disabilities
 Guardian ad Litem Appointments
Representation of Grandparents in Guardianship and/or Child Custody Matters
 Representation of Guardians
Representation of Conservators
 Litigation of Guardianship and Conservatorship Matters

Why might someone need a guardianship?

There are many reasons a guardianship may be necessary. The ward might be a minor for whom you are caring, but for whom you have no legal authority to enroll in school or obtain medical care. The ward might be a developmentally disabled adult who needs assistance in his or her day-to-day decision making. The ward might also be an incapacitated adult who is no longer able to make appropriate decisions for daily care.

Why might someone need a conservatorship?

If the ward has funds that may be wasted (either by the ward’s own actions, or by being taken advantage of by another) then a conservator should be appointed. Similarly, a conservator should be appointed when an incapacitated person no longer has the ability to manage his or her financial affairs. Finally, in some circumstances, a minor has assets that need to be preserved until he or she reaches the age of majority. If the minor’s assets come from a one-time accident or payment, they can often be handled by a minor’s compromise. If the minor’s assets are significant or will require on-going management, then a conservator is more desirable.

What is a developmentally disabled adult guardianship?

This is a special type of guardianship designed to protect the interests of adults with developmental disabilities. It is also designed to foster independence and participation in decision making. There are specific guidelines that must be reviewed to determine if any given case is appropriate for this special type of guardianship. There are additional safe-guards put into place to ensure that all aspects of a developmentally disabled adult’s challenges are addressed. We walk each client through the process to determine the right fit for your situation.

What are the requirements?

Although there are many specific requirements that must be met before a person can be appointed as the guardian or conservator of another, generally speaking, you need to be an interested party (e.g., a relative or caregiver) and be willing and able to discharge your duties as a guardian and conservator. For all guardianships and conservatorships of adults, the proposed guardian(s) will need to complete on-line training and a background check before being appointed.

Would someone need to be both a guardian and conservator?

Yes, in some situations, the same person or persons will be appointed to be both the guardian and conservator of a ward.

What is the process?

While each situation is unique, the process of being appointed as the guardian or conservator of another individual requires filing a petition with the Court, participating with the Guardian ad Litem (the attorney for the ward), the Court Visitor (usually a social worker and the Court’s investigator for the ward), and attending a hearing. Following appointment, a Conservator must file an Inventory within 90 days, and an accounting at least annually. A Guardian, once appointed, must file a report of the status of the ward at least annually to update the Court regarding the ward’s location and current status. A guardianship and/or conservatorship generally lasts for a minor until they turn age 18, and for an adult until his or her incapacity no longer exists or until he or she passes away.

We understand that a guardianship and/or conservatorship matter can be overwhelming when you are in the midst of the process. With that in mind, we strive to meet your needs in a personal, respectful, and caring manner. It is our policy to keep you informed of developments in your case and to respond promptly to phone calls and/or e-mails. As a result, you will be well positioned to make informed decisions as the dissolution process moves forward.

Click Here for the Guardian/Conservator Worksheet (Developmentally Disabled)
Click Here for the Guardian/Conservator Worksheet (Minor)

What if the family doesn’t agree?

In certain circumstances any of these proceedings may be contested, with competing interests all vying for appointment or input. In these difficult situations, it is important to remember that you may need legal help in reaching a resolution that will serve the best interests of the ward.

How can we help?

Our team stands ready to assist you in both contested and uncontested actions. Both Ms. O’Neil and Ms. Scott are knowledgeable in all aspects of contested and uncontested guardianship and conservatorship actions. We can help present to the Court your interests and those of the ward in order to obtain the best possible resolution of a difficult situation.