Q: What is a guardian?
A: A guardian is an individual or organization appointed by a court to make personal decisions, including medical decisions and living arrangements for an incapacitated person.
Q: What is a conservator?
A: A conservator is an individual or organization appointed by a court to make financial decisions for incapacitated persons.
Q: Do incapacitated persons always need both a guardian and conservator?
A: No. The guardianship and conservatorship proceedings are often combined into one proceeding, but, sometimes, a person many only need a guardian or conservator, depending on the circumstances.
Q: How much does a guardianship and/or conservatorship proceeding cost?
A: It can cost several thousand dollars, or more, for a guardianship/conservatorship proceeding. Petitions, orders from the Court, and doctor’s evaluations must be prepared, and a separate attorney, known as a guardian ad litem, must be appointed to represent the incapacitated person. Due to the strict law regarding guardianship and conservatorship proceedings, it can often take several months to complete.
Q: My mother has dementia and we are having difficulty managing her financial and personal affairs. Do we need to have a guardianship or conservatorship?
A: Multiple means are often available to make decisions for incapacitated persons, such as a power of attorney, joint accounts and statutory default medical decision-makers for incapacitated persons. However, if none of these means are available, or family members disagree regarding the decisions to be made for an incapacitated person, a guardianship or conservatorship proceeding may be necessary.