Guardianship vs Conservatorship: What Are the Differences?

When you have reached a time in life when you must go down the path of substitute decision-making, there are many intricacies. Often, there is confusion about guardianship vs conservatorship.

There are approximately 1.3 million cases of conservatorship or guardianship active in the U.S. at any given time. This number represents about $50 billion in assets being managed. Statistics also suggest that 81.3% of guardians are a member of the family.

If you are researching the differences between these two terms, you are not alone. Also, the chances are high that it is hitting close to home with someone you love.

We will help you navigate the differences between guardianship vs conservatorship and give you some tips for both, too. Let’s not delay and get into the details right now.

Guardianship vs Conservatorship

For many states, the term “guardianship” will give control to an individual regarding day-to-day, personal decisions of an individual. A “conservatorship” will provide authority for controlling another person’s financial decisions.

There are some states, however, that the term guardianship refers to the ward in question as a minor. Meanwhile, the term conservatorship refers to the care of an adult who is “incapacitated” or “incompetent.”

For your individual situation, the best place to start is to see how your state defines and applies each term. No matter which term best defines your situation, often most states will require sending a petition or application to get authority of a guardianship or conservatorship by first going to the state court.

Your local area will have more conservatorship tips and guardianship tips to better advise you.

Conservatorship Explained

This is a legal status in that a court will appoint an individual to manage the personal and financial affairs of either a minor or someone who is “incapacitated.” The conservator can also serve as the guardian. Their responsibility is to establish and monitor the physical care of a person, as well as manage their arrangements for living.

There are pros to a conservatorship, like providing the most flexibility for managing the subject’s changing needs. You can arrange housing, long-term care, and contract with providers as the person will need them. The downside to conservatorship is that it is expensive and time-consuming.

Guardianship Guide

Here is what you should do to ensure a smooth process and practice. You can also read more here about how to protect a loved one through guardianship.

First, keep detailed records of payments, assets, and everything related to money. You probably will want to create a separate bank account. Pay all things separately and keep receipts to prove the support that is spent from the cost spent.

Make sure that as the guardian, you are scheduling medical and dental check-ups regularly. If you are going to be unavailable for a period, such as taking a trip out of town, and they rely upon you for direct care, consider finding a standby guardian to help while you are gone.

Protecting Your Loved Ones

Now that we have given you some details on the differences between guardianship vs conservatorship, you are at a good starting point toward helping someone you love.

Visit us again soon for more valuable insight related to lifestyle, education, law, finance, and more. We will have new articles to share shortly.


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