The role of a guardian and a conservator may be closely related in many ways. Many people may be confused by the two and may use the term loosely and interchangeably. For good reasons that are understandable, we can see why people may confuse the two terms.
What are their roles?
To make things easier, let us summarize what their roles are.
A guardian or guardianship may be needed when the individual loses capacity to make sound decisions with their own health and safety. If the person has dementia, Alzheimer, traumatic brain injuries, physical disabilities, or mental health issues, then they will quite likely have problems managing on their own. They will have problems with making decisions on their living arrangements, treatment, and personal care.
If the person suffers from such scenario, their relative may petition for guardianship. A guardianship is important when there is no healthcare power of attorney present and no clear person’s instructions to follow.
Conservators or conservatorships are sought after mostly for the financial aspects of the individual. Although the person may be physically challenged, they may not be mentally challenged. If the person is physically challenged but not mentally challenged, the person can still make sound judgement and decisions regarding their financial aspects of their life.
If the person is mentally challenged and cannot make sound decisions for their finances and their assets, then a conservator will need to be appointed. A conservator can oversee running the financial aspects and estate of the person they are to look after.
What are a conservator and guardian’s limits in managing a ward’s finances?
As a guardian and a conservator have very distinctive roles, there are bound to be limits to their roles too. A conservator cannot do everything a guardian does and vice versa. There may be some overlap and crossover between their roles, however, there are certain areas where it’s exclusive to just their roles. Here are some key differences in their limits.
|Can only oversee the finances of their wards’ assets and properties.||Cannot really oversee the finances of their wards’ assets and properties.|
|They have fiduciary duty, power of attorney, and yearly accounting to do on their wards’ assets and properties.||They do have fiduciary duties towards their wards. However, they have very little to no financial power over their wards. Even if they do have financial duties, it’s only limited to a threshold of a certain amount or less.|
|Their duties may extend to more substantial holdings and assets. Their duties may not extend beyond that. Even if it does extend into their wards’ personal lives, it will be a very rare thing to happen.||Their duties extend to securing medical care, education, and minor financial duties. Rarely will their duty as a guardian extend into the financial aspects of their wards’ assets and properties.|
|In certain circumstances, the conservator may have to seek court approval to sell the ward’s real estate and personal property. The conservator may also need to seek court approval before using any and all of the ward’s credit/debit card to withdraw funds from their account.||In certain circumstances, the guardian may need to seek court approval before admitting the ward into a long-term care facility. It’s the same thing when it comes to administering certain drugs to the ward, as the guardian may need court approval before doing so.|
|In some cases, the court may consider the wishes of the ward concerning his/her wish regarding their estate and finances. After considering the wishes of the ward, only then will the court appoint the most suitable conservator for him/her.||In some cases, the court may consider the wishes of the ward concerning his/her wish regarding their overall health and daily lifestyle. After considering the wishes of the ward, only then will the court appoint the most suitable guardian for him/her.|
|Only the court shall be able to set the foundations and limitations of the conservator’s duties, which will create a limited conservatorship. The court may set the scope and duration of the conservatorship, and the court may permit to give any consent or approvals that may be necessary for the ward and their assets and properties.||Only the court shall be able to set the foundations and limitations of the guardian’s duties, which will create a limited guardianship. The court may set the scope and duration of the guardianship, and the court may permit to give any consent or approvals that may be necessary for the ward and their healthcare and lifestyle|
Conservators and guardians may have very distinctive roles in their wards’ lives. Though their roles may cross over and overlap at certain areas and points in the wards’ lives does not mean their roles are one and the same. There are certain limitations to the roles of the conservator and the guardian. Above are some of the main differences.
If you need help with appointing a conservator or a guardian, we are more than ready to assist. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us for further assistance.