How Guardianship And Conservatorship Protect Vulnerable Adults When They Cannot Protect Themselves
What in the world do guardianship and conservatorship have to do with defending senior rights? Fact is, not only seniors become incapacitated and not every senior faces these issues. However fate sneaks up on you, who will make decisions for you when you cannot make them for yourself?
Guardianship And Conservatorship Protect You When You Cannot
When a person isn’t able to make their own decisions in the eyes of the law that person is incapacitated. If you become incapacitated, who will make decisions for you? The Health Care Directive allows you to plan ahead for this condition. If you do not plan ahead, the courts will intervene and assign somebody to act on your behalf. There are two arrangements that can be made under these circumstances: Guardianship and Conservatorship.
Guardianship And Conservatorship Result From Court Action
In Minnesota, generally they are established through a legal action or court proceedings. The petitioner files a petition with the court requesting that a conservatorship or guardianship be established. The court orders the appointment of a conservator or guardian to act as a decision maker for the protected person or ward. There must be clear evidence that the protected person or ward is unable to make necessary decisions on his or her own behalf. This is a finding of incapacity. If the individual’s welfare is at risk due to the individual’s lack of judgment or decision making abilities the court will intervene.
What Is The Difference Between Guardianship And Conservatorship?
What is the difference between guardianship and conservatorship? It’s common to see them expressed as Guardianship of the Person and Conservatorship of the estate. The guardian generally makes decisions regarding:
- General care, where to live and personal needs
- Personal care and maintenance
- Reasonable care of personal effects
- Necessary consent for medical, professional care or services
- Supervisory authority which may limit personal freedom
Some medical treatments require court review and approval and such decisions are not up to the guardian.
Conservatorship Is Also Concerned With Property
A conservatorship is chosen when the court believes that the person’s property will be depleted and wasted without intervention. That person under conservatorship is called the protected person; whereas under guardianship they are called the ward. The protected person need not be incapacitated in every way, nor is there any finding of general incompetence. It is still possible for the protected person to marry, make a will and vote. A conservator of the estate must:
- Pay reasonable support and maintenance from the protected person’s estate
- Pay any just and lawful debts from the protected person’s estate
- Manage the estate
- Collect all debts owed the protected person
- Invest all funds not currently needed according to law
- Approve or withhold approval of contracts, except for necessities
- Sell, exchange or purchase undivided interest in real estate with court approval
Guardianship And Conservatorship Favor Family Members
A concerned family member, a close friend, a professional guardian or conservator, or private or public agency may be appointed by the court. Depending on any wishes of the incapacitated person and also on the availability of a willing person to accept this responsibility, the court has an order of priority for candidates to be appointed. A private guardian or conservator is a private citizen or a private agency staff person. A public guardian or conservator then is a staff person within the state or local county agency.
Guardianship And Conservatorship Protect Vulnerable Adults
Vulnerable adult counsel and defense are serious issues for seniors and those tasked for their care. Caregivers and companies have concerns regarding training caregivers and staff about Vulnerable Adult law. Caregivers and companies may come under investigation for financial exploitation, neglect or abuse and require specific counsel. People and companies that have been unjustly accused of exploitation need expert legal representation. Regardless whether you are deemed incapacitated or you are a caregiver accused of wrong doing, WL Brown Law Office has the expertise protect your rights.