Guardianships and conservatorships are two valuable tools that people can utilize when they create their estate plan. In many ways, these two elements are very similar, but they provide crucial coverage when someone is incapacitated or otherwise unable to take care of themselves or make decisions. So today, let's talk about these vital parts of an estate plan.
First, a guardianship. A guardian protects his or her "ward," the person making the estate plan or in need of a guardianship. The guardian's job is to help the ward and make certain decisions for him or her. For example, what type of medical care should the ward receive? How does the ward get food or supplies, and how does he or she complete basic tasks? What about financial decisions and education decisions? All of these things would be handled by the guardian on behalf of the ward.
Your guardian should be someone you know and trust. This decision can be made in your estate plan documents, and should be a spouse, parent or trusted family member or loved one.
A conservatorship acts on behalf of the person's estate. A conservator is appointed once it is clear that the conservatee is unable to make decisions on his or her own or resist undue influence. The conservator takes control of the estate, but not for his or her own gain. The conservator merely makes decisions regarding the estate for the benefit of the conservatee. Again, your conservator should be trused, and a court will eventually approve of the conservator.