Guardianship / Conservatorship

Legal Protection for Elderly Incapacitated Individuals

When a loved one can no longer handle their personal care or affairs related to their finances and property, the court will appoint someone who has the legal authority to make decisions for the affected person.


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A guardian or conservator can be appointed for any person who needs assistance making decisions, such as: an older person, a person with disabilities, a minor, and a person temporarily incapacitated. A guardian is sometimes necessary to prevent the exploitation or abuse of a vulnerable person, or to recover assets wrongly taken from the vulnerable person. 



A guardian or conservator can only be appointed if a court hears evidence that convinces it that the person lacks mental capacity in some or all areas of their life and needs assistance. The person alleged to be incapacitated has a right to an attorney and to object to the appointment of a guardian or conservator for him or her.



A person who has a guardian or conservator appointed for him or her is often called a “ward.” Guardians and conservators have great power but are required to report to the court. Guardians frequently make decisions about where their ward will live, with whom the ward associates, how the ward’s property is invested, what type of financial benefits the ward needs, and the type and scope of health care needs required by the ward. Whenever possible, the guardian or conservator must seek the input of the ward and must only act in areas authorized by the court. 



Guardians and conservators are frequently required to post a bond or place the ward’s funds into protected financial accounts that can only be used with prior court approval. Guardians and conservators will often need to seek the court’s permission before selling or disposing of property, before entering contracts, and before making major decisions about the ward’s life.



Guardians and conservators are also required to report to the court regarding their ward’s property, finances, and expenditures, usually on an annual basis, or more frequently as the court may require. They are also typically required to report at least annually about the ward’s person and his or her health care needs. Guardianship or conservatorship, when properly used, are beneficial methods of protecting an incapacitated person for whom no other means are available to assist with making informed decisions. 



The continuing involvement of the court provides added protection for the ward and those interested in the ward’s welfare.



Our attorneys have extensive experience representing petitioners in guardian and conservator matters. Call for a free consultation today!



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