Guardianship and Conservatorship

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Updated: 4/13/2007 3:35 pm
A guardian is someone appointed by will or by a court to take care of and protect the affairs and legal rights of minor children or people who are mentally or physically unable to take care of themselves. Often courts are called upon to appoint a guardian or conservator to handle the affairs of elderly or ill people who cannot protect themselves from others who mismanage or use their money for their own financial gain. Sometimes the elderly or ill person has little money left by the time someone asks a court to intervene to appoint a guardian or conservator. A guardian or conservator has specific duties and may not take advantage of the person he or she has been appointed to protect. Courts often require that the guardian post a monetary bond to protect against taking any unauthorized or improper action. It is an expensive process to have a guardian or conservator appointed by a court. In addition, a court may appoint someone you would not want to handle your affairs. However, if you have a Durable Power of Attorney for financial affairs and a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, you can appoint someone you trust to manage your financial affairs and your health care decisions. As long as the people you appoint are competent and reliable, it probably will not be necessary for a court to appoint a guardian of its own choice. There are many different types of full and limited guardianships and conservatorships, so consult an attorney for further information.

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