Guardianship and Conservatorship
Serving Oconee County and the Surrounding Area
Few people consider guardianship as a fully satisfactory solution to securing care for an incapacitated loved one, but without alternative options, it can be valuable tool to protect the personal and financial security of a parent or loved one who can no longer make decisions for themselves.
For most, it is advisable to make proactive plans that avoid the necessity for guardianship and conservatorship. This can be accomplished through advanced planning including financial or health care powers of attorney, trustee designations, and special needs trusts. We can assist you in creating clear and effective instructions on how you will be cared for and ensure your wishes are known and honored. When proactive planning is insufficient, guardianship may become necessary.
Guardianship is the legal process that the probate court follows to declare a person incapacitated and unable to make their own medical decisions. The court appoints an agent to act on their behalf and make decisions on choice of doctor, treatment options, where the incapacitated person will live, and other important decisions. The ward may be incapacitated through an accident, suffer from an incapacitating illness, have a mental illness, mental deficiency, mental disorder or struggle with chronic intoxication or drug abuse.
Conservatorships are very similar to guardianship and therefore often confused. These are formed when the probate court declares that a person is unable to manage their own financial resources due to incapacity. This may include buying or selling property, managing investments, or other banking transactions. A conservatorship is typically granted in connection with a guardianship but is not required to be. If the ward or protected person has assets that are above a certain level, the court will monitor any appointed conservators by requiring annual reports on how those assets were used.
It is essential this authority is given only to a person you trust and who genuinely cares about you. You may consider limiting their authority to meet your best interests.
REMOVAL OF GUARDIANSHIP OR CONSERVATORSHIP
The removal of a guardianship or conservatorship can be a complicated process whereby the ward petitions the court to have their legal rights restored. They must demonstrate that their incapacity no longer exists or is such that they are no longer in need of a guardian or conservator.
To transfer the responsibility of guardianship to another person requires approval from the court after filing a petition and attending a hearing to determine if transferring guardianship is in the ward’s best interest.