Guardianships and Conservatorships

A guardian is an individual granted custody and control over an incapacitated person by the court. Your loved one may have an incapacity due to their elderly age, a mental health diagnosis, or a physical ailment that causes them to be unable to manage their own welfare.  Guardians are responsible for making sure the incapacitated person or ward has necessary medical attention, an acceptable place to live, adequate food, appropriate supervision, and more generally provide assistance in daily tasks.

Any “interested person” may file a petition for the appointment of himself or some other qualified person as guardian of an incapacitated person, and if so appointed by the judge, may serve in that capacity. An “interested person” is an individual who has an interest in the welfare of an incapacitated person, and is not himself a minor, ward, or protected person.

A conservator is granted control over financial matters for an incapacitated individual, such as paying their bills, filing taxes determining a budget for the ward, taking care of the ward’s investments, etc. A conservator has no authority to make decisions regarding the ward’s personal affairs.

A guardian may be appointed by the probate court for an adult when there is clear and convincing evidence that the adult lacks sufficient capacity to make or communicate significant responsible decisions regarding his or her health or safety.  Likewise, a conservator may be appointed when there is clear and convincing evidence that the adult lacks sufficient capacity to make such decisions regarding his or her property. A guardian and conservator can be the same person, and the court will require a showing that both are necessary.

Guardians are generally empowered to arrange and expend money for the support, care, education, health and welfare award. In effect, a guardian has similar powers as that of a parent over a child. Conservators are generally empowered to receive, collect, and make decisions regarding a minor’s or ward’s finances and property.

The probate court judge appoints a guardian or conservator after a hearing is held in which evidence is presented to show that the guardianship or conservatorship is in “the best interest of the proposed ward.”  As a result, it is important to be prepared to provide evidence at the hearing and present your case to the judge.  The guardianship and conservatorship process is an important element in providing continuous, consistent care to your special needs loved one.  The best way to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible is to understand how it works at each step.  Our firm knows the process and can help you through it.  Please contact us to find out how.

5 Things You Should Know About Guardianship in Georgia

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1.  The entire guardianship process begins by filing a Petition for Appointment of Guardian/Conservator with the appropriate probate court. 

2.  The individual for whom guardianship is sought will be formally served with the Petition and is required to be represented by an attorney. 

3.  Guardianship proceedings are “adversarial” and relatively time-consuming. 

4.  Guardianship proceedings are heavily scrutinized because if granted an individual loses the freedom to govern their own affairs. 

5.  A judge decides based on evidence presented at trial whether an individual lacks the capacity to care for themselves