There is one big difference between guardianships and conservatorships. A legal guardian can make a wide range of personal and medical decisions for the person in their care while a conservatorship generally grants much more limited decision-making powers. A conservator usually only has the authority to pay bills, make investments, and handle other financial matters.
Who Needs a Guardian or Conservator?
Both guardianships and conservatorships are court-ordered. Family members generally request them when their loved one can no longer make their own decisions, and someone else needs legal authority to act on their behalf. Depending on your loved one’s needs, you may decide to establish a conservatorship or a guardianship.
There are several reasons why this type of legal action might be necessary. This includes:
- Your aging loved one suffers from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia
- Your family member has a serious illness or injury and cannot manage their affairs
- You have a child with special needs who is now age 18
Cognitive decline and dementia are two of the top reasons family members seek control of their aging loved one’s financial accounts, medical care, and/or personal affairs.
For example, imagine your grandmother lives alone and suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. The power company shut off her electricity because she forgot to pay her power bill. She is still capable of making many decisions and would like to remain on her own but needs help with financial matters. In this case, we could help you establish a conservatorship or limited guardianship and talk about other options related to her future care as her disease progresses.
Understanding Guardianships and Conservatorships
Some people only need help managing their finances while others need assistance with everyday activities and personal care. This is a key consideration when discussing a guardianship or conservatorship. Our team — elder law attorneys, social workers, and a registered nurse — can help you weigh the facts of your loved one’s situation and determine the right plan of action.
Naming a guardian or conservator both require legal action, and both are accountable to the court. Often, the same person handles both roles although this is not always the case.
You Can Avoid This Legal Action with Proper Planning
With the right planning, we can often help families avoid the headache of having the court appoint a guardian or conservator. Not only does this require you to go to court, you then also have the court judging each decision you make.
However, if your loved one signed a durable financial power of attorney before they became incapacitated, you would not need to worry about setting up a conservatorship. If you are looking for peace of mind about your financial future and want to take the pressure off your family, we can help you create the necessary powers of attorney.
We can also discuss your other needs and put a personalized Life Care Plan in place for today and the future.
Let Our Team Help You Take Care of Your Loved One
Getting guardianship or conservatorship is not something the courts take lightly, and they make the process incredibly complex. We will meet with your family to gain a good understanding of your needs, then guide you through the process step by step. We can simplify this complicated process for you, serving as compassionate advocates who fight for your loved one’s best interests.
We understand how New Jersey’s guardianship and conservatorship laws work and can walk you through your options based on your family’s needs. We will discuss with you the pros and cons and take action to protect your loved one’s future.
If you have questions about elder law, Life Care Planning, Medicaid planning, or other related topics, we will be happy to discuss with you our full menu of services available and which ones might be pertinent to your situation.
Call a New Jersey Estate and Elder Care Attorney Today
The best way to learn more about the differences between guardianships and conservatorships is to reach out to a New Jersey elder care lawyer today.
At Bratton Estate and Elder Care Attorneys, our interdisciplinary approach means we take the time to get to know you and understand your needs before we put a plan in place. Our social workers and registered nurse on staff set us apart from other firms who take a one-size-fits-all approach.
Call us at 856-857-6007 to get started today.