Guardianships and conservatorships are established when the court determines that an individual is incapacitated and the conservator and/or guardian is appointed to act as a decision maker for the incapacitated individual (the “ward” in the guardianship and the “protected person” in the conservatorship).
The guardianship is of the body – the guardian makes personal decisions for the ward, including medical care and where the ward will live. For a guardianship, an individual is incapacitated when the court determines that the individual is impaired to the extent that they cannot communicate or make responsible personal decisions and is unable to meet personal needs for medical care, nutrition, clothing, safety, shelter, etc.
The conservatorship is of the estate – the conservator makes financial decisions for the protected person. For a conservatorship, an individual is incapacitated when an individual is unable to manage their property, and that property will be dissipated or wasted without the appointment of a conservator.
Guardianship and conservatorship are helpful legal avenues for protecting and safeguarding an incapacitated individual and their estate, but they are also complex court processes to navigate and are not to be used simply when family or friends are frustrated with an individual or don’t like the individual’s decision(s). Guardians and conservators have to carefully adhere to annual reporting requirements.
Blethen Berens is privileged to have southern Minnesota’s guardianship experts on our team. Our guardianship attorneys have helped hundreds of southern Minnesota families navigate this process, and we welcome the opportunity to guide you.