Guardians vs. Conservators

Author

Lear & Lear PLLC Law Offices

Posted on

Dec 15, 2023

Book/Edition

Utah - Utah

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Today, we're discussing how to choose between appointing a guardian or conservator. When deciding what kind of protection you need in an aide, there are many things to consider, including:

  1. 1. What is your personal capacity to care for yourself?

    2. What areas of life do you need supervision over? Healthcare? Daily maintenance? Or, do you only need help safeguarding finances?

  2. 3. How extensive is your estate?

  3. 4. What is the difference between a guardian and a conservator?

  4. 5. What combination of conservator/guardian would you most benefit from? Guardian only? Conservator only? Or both?

Differences Between Guardians and Conservators

A guardian is a person (or an institution) who is given authority to act on behalf of a protected person as though they were that person. A guardian can be given a full guardianship over all aspects of your life, or authorities limited to certain areas such as health care, education, or finances.

A conservator is given authority only over your finances. Like a guardian, a conservator must be appointed by a court order. However, unlike a guardian, a conservator cannot make personal decisions for you.

Conservator’s Duties

Once appointed, a conservator becomes the trustee of your estate, which includes income (wages, social security, annuities), real property (a house, other buildings, and land), as well as stocks, bonds, retirement funds, etc. In fact, once appointed, and unless specifically limited, a conservator has all of the authority given by law to conservators, additional authority given to trustees, and the authority of the protected person, except the power to make or change a will. This amounts to a lot of power. Thus, when acting on your behalf, a conservator must act as a prudent investor would.

A conservator’s duties and powers include:

  • Managing your income

  • Continuing or participating in the operation of your business or enterprises

  • Making necessary estate payments

  • Organizing and protecting your assets

  • Appraising and safeguarding your property

  • Making prudent investments

  • Paying or contesting any claims against the estate

  • Regularly reporting to the court

The list above is by no means exhaustive. Because a conservator does have so much power, their authorities and responsibilities are highly regulated. An in depth conversation about these powers is outside of the scope of this blog post, but must be understood and tailored to your specific needs in order to best serve them.

Deciding What Is Best For You

If your are able to care for yourself in every area other than their finances, you might only need a conservator. If you need help in other areas of their life, you probably need a guardian. If your capacity to care for yourself is diminished and you have an extensive estate, you might need both a guardian and a conservator.

We understand that deciding how to best plan for your future might seem complicated and daunting. We can help you balance the choices that you have with your needs. Contact us today.


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