If a person is unable to care for themselves, make reasonable decisions, or unable to protect their own welfare, they may need to have a guardian appointed. If they are unable to make financial decisions or unable to care for their own financial affairs, they may need to have a conservator appointed. The person who is in need of a guardianship or conservatorship is called a ward.
A guardian for a minor may be needed whenever a child is not living with at least one natural or adoptive parent.
The difference between a guardian and a conservator is that with a guardianship, the guardian makes non-financial decisions for the ward, (such as matters involving the ward’s health, education, social and religious activities), whereas with a conservatorship, a conservator has authority to manage the ward’s financial affairs (which includes bank accounts, stocks and bonds, real estate, insurance policies, and other personal property). A person who needs a guardian may also need a conservator. While the person serving as the guardian can also serve as the conservator, this is not automatic; in order to have both a guardianship and a conservatorship, separate petitions for each would need to be filed with the court.
Because the appointment of a Guardian or Conservator is an important decision with significant legal implications, it is important to talk with an attorney who understands the issues involved.
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