Woman pushing her mom in a wheelchair

When a loved one is struggling to care for themselves, family and friends often wonder what their options are to help. Mental illness, old age, and physical ailments are all reasons an individual might need long term care. While coming to that decision may not be easy, taking the legal steps to protect your loved one’s well being may be necessary.

Before deciding if consistent care is the step you’d like to take to insure your loved ones safety, you need to consider how they’ve been caring for themselves up until this point. What has changed in their lives that has you worried? Have they grown more helpless with age? Is Alzheimer’s or Dementia taking a toll on how they view the world? Have they become reckless with their finances? Knowing exactly what has you questioning their safety will be important during the filing process.

Any “interested person” of legal age can file a petition to appoint themselves or another qualified person as the guardian or conservator of an incapacitated person. 

This is where knowing the difference between guardianships and conservatorships becomes important. 

What Is A Guardianship?

Appointment as a guardian gives one or more individuals the authority to make life decisions on behalf of an individual who has been deemed incapacitated or incompetent by a court of law. The responsibilities of a guardian include personal and health-related decisions such as living arrangements, medical treatments, and overall safety. A guardian does not have the authority to control an individual’s finances.

What Is A Conservatorship?

Appointment of a conservator gives one of more individuals the authority to make financial decisions on behalf of an individual who has been deemed incapacitated or incompetent by a court of law. The responsibilities of a conservator include managing bank accounts and investments, paying bills, collecting debts, and other financial assets on behalf of another individual. A conservator does not have the authority to control an individual’s personal affairs.

A guardian and conservator can be the same person, if deemed necessary by the court.

What You Should Know Before Becoming A Guardian or Conservator

  • In order to start the process of becoming a guardian or conservator, a Petition for Appointment of Guardian/Conservator must be filed with the correct probate court.
  • Once the petition has been filed correctly, a court appointed physician will examine the proposed individual to determine if a guardian or conservator is needed to care for their wellbeing or financial assets.
  • A hearing will be held with the information given to determine whether an appointed guardian or conservator is necessary.
  • You should be prepared to present your own evidence to the judge as to why you believe this individual needs consistent and constant care.
  • If a guardian or conservator is deemed necessary by the court, the individual will lose the freedom to take care of themselves and govern their own lives.

Because appointing a guardian and conservator removes the right for an individual to care for themselves, it is not a legal avenue that should be taken lightly. We know deciding a loved one is unable to care for themselves or their finances can be a tough decision but doing what is best for the ones you love is what is most important. The Success Firm is here to help you make the best decision for all parties involved. If you are ready to start the guardianship and conservatorship process, give us a call at (404) 709-2158, or book an appointment here to get started today.

The Success Firm

Attorney Success is a licensed member of both the South Carolina and Georgia State Bars, accredited by the Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as a registered neutral with the State of Georgia Commission on Dispute Resolution. She is a lifelong resident of central DeKalb County and a graduate of the University of Georgia. The Success Firm is serving the growing needs of the Metropolitan Atlanta area located in Decatur, GA. Attorney Success delivers legal solutions in the best interest of her clients.