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What is the difference between guardianship and conservatorship?

Sometimes family members need guidance in their lives from a guardian or conservator. These type of court ordered relationships are set in place to aid a young person or adult with their health and finances. In many states the term guardianship is blanketed over all age groups, but California has a different set of terms.

Guardianship is appointed for minors

Guardianships are appointed by a court, ordering an adult to have custody over a child and/or responsibility of their estate. A minor is appointed a legal guardian for help managing their health and affairs. A guardianship is typically set in place when the parent is no longer able to be the legal guardian. Guardianship is supervised by the court and is not the same as adoption. In a guardianship the parent still has parental rights.

Guardians must be responsible for the child's welfare, including major responsibilities such as:

  • Living arrangements
  • Medical needs and decisions
  • School arrangements
  • Mental health care

Conservatorship is appointed for adults

Conservatorships are court cases in which a judge appoints a person responsible for another adult. The conservator will be responsible for the adult's affairs and finances. These types of court appointed relationships are necessary when a family member has become incapacitated without signing powers of attorney for their finances and health care. There are options to become a conservator of a person and conservator of an estate.

Conservatorship of a person will come with important decisions to keep the loved one healthy and happy. Some responsibilities include:

  • Health care decisions
  • Living arrangements
  • Personal care
  • Much more

Conservatorship of an estate also comes with some major decisions. Be prepared to handle all the finances. Conservator of an estate will be responsible for:

  • What to do with real estate: this includes any houses or land the conservatee may own. Also any personal property on the estates
  • What to do with any liquid assets
  • Taking care to pay the adult's loans, bills, and taxes
  • Deciding on the conservatee's living arrangements
  • Any additional financial obligations

Conservatorship comes with a lot of responsibilities but can greatly benefit an adult who has become unable to take care of their affairs. Becoming a conservator can help your family member make the best decisions for their future. If you are interested in becoming a conservator then contact an experienced conservatorship attorney.

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