A Guide To Understanding Guardianship and Conservatorship

Guardianships and conservatorships have become recurring topics in the news, so we’ve provided a basic overview to better understand those terms and what they involve.  Read on to get great insight from award-winning family law attorneys.

Appointed By The Court

Guardians are appointed by the court over either a minor, an adult who is disabled, or an adult that has been determined to be incapacitated (also called a ward).

Part of the guardian’s duties includes acting on their behalf for their best interests in matters such as education, shelter, and treatment.

Guardians may give needed legal consent for the treatment of the ward, but there are bounds to the power and discretion of the guardian.

There are a number of acts the guardian may only take once he/she has received a written court order. However, guardians may never prohibit the marriage or divorce of the ward, and nor may they consent to the termination of the ward’s parental rights.

Managing the Estate

Conservators are appointed by the court to manage the estate of an incapacitated or disabled person. Conservators can be either a person or a corporation, like a bank or a trusted company.

The conservator has the duty to protect and manage the person’s estate and properly use their funds. Although a conservator has a duty to manage and protect the person’s estate, that does not make him/her personally liable for the ward’s debts while acting in a representative capacity.

However, if the conservator misuses the ward’s property, that can open them up to personal liability for the harm(s) caused.

Training and Annual Reports

Both guardians and conservators have required training and annual reports to be completed while in their position.

Failure to do so can be grounds for a change in guardianship or conservatorship, but it is not sufficient for the termination of either. Guardianship or conservatorship of a minor may be terminated upon the ward turning eighteen, so long as the minor has not been determined to have any impairments.

The termination of an adult conservatorship or guardianship is an uphill battle. To terminate guardianship or conservatorship for an incapacitated or disabled adult, the ward must be found to be competent upon the ward’s death. If petitioning for termination during the ward’s lifetime, an assessment of the ward’s condition will need to be done.

If you have any questions about conservatorship or guardianship, please call us at (816) 605-1734 or book a free consultation.

by Suzanne Hale Robinson

Owner and Managing Partner, at Hale Robinson & Robinson.