Guardianships & Conservatorships
Guardianships and Conservatorships are legal proceedings in the probate court that allow one person to ask for control of another person’s finances and health care. There must be a demonstrated need for the court’s appointment of a guardian or conservator that would generally show that the person cannot make his or her own health care decisions and cannot manage money for him or herself.
When a person suffers full dementia but is still physically healthy, an appointed guardian can direct that person’s medical decisions. Quite often, the mentally incapacitated person will also need a conservator appointed to manage that person’s money and property. If the court finds probable cause to have a guardian or conservator appointed on the ward’s behalf, it will schedule a hearing. An emergency guardian can also be appointed if the need is dire.
What is a guardian? What does it mean to be a guardian?
Think of a guardian as a caregiver: this is the individual determined to take responsibility for administering care to a ward, whether that be you in the event of medical incapacitation, or in some states in reference to minor children that go under the care of an appointed adult. A guardian is designated as take legal responsibility, and should you not name one in a will, states have procedures in place to name one in the absence of a will.
What powers does a guardian have?
The guardian, in a legal estate context, can be a permanent guardianship or a temporary state. For instance, should you be incapacitated but anticipate the chance of a recovery down the road, a temporary guardian can manage care matters on a temporary basis until recovery. This includes life-threatening situations, such as decisions on whether or not to pursue medical treatments that may extend or better your livelihood. A guardian has the powers to determine where you are treated and who you are seen by in a medical context, as well as the lengths of support you seek in such a state. It’s a major responsibility, and it’s absolutely crucial that you designate someone a potential guardian that you can trust and that has the ability to care for you in the way that you may need under the circumstances.
What is a conservator? What does it mean to be a conservator?
The conservator in the state of Georgia is going to be the financial side of an estate. It’s possible that the conservator and guardian overlap, as often people will name a spouse to serve both roles. The conservator, again, may serve in a permanent or temporary situation. Should you not have an estate planned, a court will determine the financials and essentially serve in a similar fashion as a conservator, but using the guidance of state estate law to determine financial decisions. This places an utmost necessity on naming a conservator in your estate plan before such an event happens.
What powers does a conservator have?
A conservator is appointed to manage the personal and business financials of an individual. The conservator is responsible to manage investments, including stock holdings and IRA assets, and also determine how pensions and social security funds are allocated. The conservator also will file taxes on the behalf of a party, and maintain the budget of assets for an incapacitated individual. These powers are a major responsibility, one that cannot be taken lightly. It’s key to have long conversations about what this arrangement could look like with your conservator to ensure they’re right for the appointment.
Differences Between Guardians & Conservators
Under Elder law in Georgia, being appointed as a guardian or a conservator has distinct responsibilities. A guardian is an individual appointed to make decisions regarding medical and other forms of treatment. A conservator is an individual appointed to make financial decisions.
A guardian will make decisions involving all of the following elements:
- Place of residence
- Types of medical treatment
A conservator will make decisions regarding financial concerns such as:
- Paying bills and other debts
- Creating a budget for the ward
- Handling investments on behalf of the ward
- Filing taxes
Creating a Guardianship or Conservatorship
If you would like to establish a guardianship or conservatorship for a loved one under elder law in Georgia, our Atlanta elder law attorneys and skilled legal team can help you through the process. You will need two petitioners who file a petition in the probate court in the area where the ward is currently residing.
Our Firm and experienced Atlanta elder law attorney can help with guardianship and conservatorship proceedings in the least stressful and most time-efficient manner for the family involved. Our certified elder law attorney understands that most guardianships and conservatorships can be alleviated with the proper implementation of advance directive for health care and financial power of attorney documents, we strongly recommend the inclusion of these incapacity documents when making one’s estate plan.
As an estate planning and probate firm, we understand that most people do not have these important documents. We are attorneys specializing in elder law, effectively helping clients with the conservatorship and guardianship proceedings when the need arises.
Legal Guidance from Our Atlanta Certified Elder Law Attorney
Whether you want to appoint guardian or conservator or have been appointed to one of these roles, you will need the effective representation of our Firm. Our Atlanta elder law attorney takes actions to protect your rights and ensure that the decisions made are in your best interest.
Having a guardian appointed takes away many rights from the ward, including his or her right to:
- Sign a contract
- Consent to medical treatment
- Establish a residence
Terminating a Guardianship or Conservatorship
Individuals appointed as guardians and conservators are bound by law to act in the ward’s best interest. They must permit the ward to participate in the decision-making process when possible. The conservatorship or guardianship will terminate upon the death of the ward or when a petition for removal is successful.
Contact our Atlanta elder law attorney and Elder Care Attorney Atlanta for the legal guidance you need!