The Law in Your Life


The Main Problem - Guardianships and Conservatorships

What if you did not plan ahead and are now faced with a family member who has become incapacitated?

In this section, we will examine some of the more common issues surrounding another health-related legal issue - guardianships or conservatorships. What are they, how do they work, and what steps should be taken to avoid them?

Many states consider guardianships to be legal proceedings by which one person is appointed to care for the affairs of another, while they are alive. Other states distinguish between guardianships [care for children] and conservatorships [care for adults]. Because of the close proximity of the two concepts, both are similar in their proceedings and in this section, we will use the terms interchangeably to apply to the affairs of both children and adults. Also, each state's laws vary in the specification of court procedures for both guardianships and conservatorships. The following is a general discussion of the main concepts of these areas of law. Please consult your state's laws, since these concepts are not interchangeable when specific state laws are involved.

Regardless of the definition, it should be clear what is involved in the process of a conservatorship or a guardianship is the concept of a court supervised legal process, which has many disadvantages, compared to the way these "care" services can be legally provided with some planning and attention to the law in your state.

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