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Conservatorships vs. Guardianships

By Robert L. Froerer on September 28, 2018

Judge’s gavelMany people avoid estate planning, and put off tasks such as writing a will or trust. Understandably, it is difficult to think about what will happen after you die. However, estate planning gives individuals the power to control their finances and assets after an incapacitating injury or death.

As uncomfortable as it may be to think about these types of issues, it is much better than leaving these decisions to the probate court, which involves a drawn out and complicated process. Having a pre-assigned conservator or guardian is especially beneficial in the event of an accident or serious illness.

Estate planning attorney Kelly Miles is happy to discuss conservatorships vs. guardianships with our Ogden, UT clients. This can help our clients make appropriate decisions about who will be in charge of their finances and medical care should they ever need this assistance.

When Is a Guardian or Conservator Needed?

A guardian or conservator will be needed if a person becomes incapacitated, meaning he or she is unable to understand facts about personal situations or make decisions about finances, medical care, or living situations. A conservator or guardian may be appointed if a person goes into a coma, suffers a stroke or brain injury, or is in the advanced stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

What Is a Guardian?

A guardian is someone appointed to be in charge of medical care decisions and other non-financial situations, such as living arrangements. For example, a guardian may choose a nursing home for a loved one who has been incapacitated by illness or injury.

While a guardian does have the right to handle small amounts of money, such as that which may come from social security or another monthly stipend, they are not allowed to make major financial decisions.

If a person has income of more than $24,000 annually, he or she will need to appoint a conservator as well as a guardian.

What Is a Conservator?

A conservator is someone who is appointed to handle the finances of someone who has been incapacitated by illness or injury. For example, a conservator may be in charge of paying the rent or mortgage and handling any investments or other expenses.

A conservator does not have the right to make personal decisions, such as where the conservatee will live or what type of medical treatment he or she will receive.

Can I Appoint the Same Person to Serve as Guardian and Conservator?

Legally, the same person can be appointed to serve as both guardian and conservator. However, since the two roles are so different, some people choose a different person for each position. These details can be discussed throughout the estate planning process so that all arrangements can be worked out before the need for a guardian or conservator arises.

Learn More

Attorney Kelly Miles has extensive experience in estate planning. He works tirelessly with clients to ensure their unique needs are met. If you would like to learn more about estate planning in general, or have questions about conservatorships and guardianships, contact us at your earliest convenience. Call us at (801) 621-2690 to set up a personal consultation.

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