FAMILY | JANUARY 2024
Differences between Guardianship and Conservatorship for Adults with Special Needs
Guardianship and conservatorship are legal arrangements that can be used to protect the rights and interests of adults with special needs. However, these arrangements can be complex and challenging to navigate.
A guardianship is a legal arrangement in which a court appoints a person (the guardian) to make personal decisions on behalf of another person (the ward). These decisions may include matters such as where the ward will live, what medical care they will receive, and what education they will receive.
A conservatorship is a legal arrangement in which a court appoints a person (the conservator) to manage the financial affairs of another person (the conservatee). These duties may include managing the conservatee's income and expenses, investing their assets, and paying their bills.
Guardianship or conservatorship may be necessary if an adult with special needs is unable to make their own decisions or manage their own financial affairs. This may be due to a variety of factors, such as a developmental disability, a mental illness, or a physical disability.
To petition for guardianship or conservatorship, you must file a petition with the court. The petition must state the reasons why you believe guardianship or conservatorship is necessary and must identify the person you are proposing to be appointed as guardian or conservator. The court will hold a hearing to consider your petition. At the hearing, the court will hear testimony from you, the proposed guardian or conservator, and any other interested parties. The court will also appoint an attorney to represent the ward or conservatee.
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If the court finds that guardianship or conservatorship is necessary, it will appoint a guardian or conservator. The guardian or conservator will have the authority to make decisions on behalf of the ward or conservatee as specified in the court order.
Duties of Guardians or Conservators:
· Acting in the best interests of the ward or conservatee
· Keeping the ward or conservatee informed of all decisions and actions taken on their behalf
· Filing reports with the court on a regular basis
Rights of Wards or Conservatees:
· The right to be treated with respect and dignity.
· The right to be involved in decisions made on their behalf.
· The right to petition the court to have the guardianship or conservatorship terminated.
Guardianship and conservatorship can be complex and challenging to navigate. However, there are a number of resources available to help you. You may want to consider working with an attorney who specializes in guardianship and conservatorship law. You may also want to contact a local advocacy organization for people with disabilities.