Aged adults who can no longer manage their finances or household affairs are often put under a guardianship or conservatorship by concerned children or relatives. Sometimes, guardians are appointed ahead of time, long before the person needs it, through an advance directive. In this situation, the older adult has a say in who his or her guardian will be and under what circumstances the conservatorship will come in to Guardianship play.

How Guardianship Law Protects Older Adults

Guardianship law is designed to protect a person’s finances and assets, healthcare and life decisions when they are unable to do so themselves. They may have become incapacitated due to age, illness or injury. There are three different types of arrangements: Guardian of the Person, the Estate of Property and Plenary Will Contest Guardian.

A Guardian of the Person is charged with caring for the ward’s health. They may take over making healthcare appointments, work with assisted living situations, pay medical bills and handle insurance issues on behalf of their ward. This type of conservatorship is most commonly found in an advance medical directive.

A Guardian of the Estate or Property has general jurisdiction over their ward’s real estate property and assets. They usually take care of tax payments, inventory and distribution of property and the managing of finances.

A Plenary Guardian is more general in nature and is really a combination of the other two types of caretaking situations. These caretakers oversee the ward’s healthcare and estate matters.

Setting Up A Guardianship

Conservatorships are created by court order. Working with an experienced elder attorney is the best course of action. Setting up a conservatorship is not a simple process and you’ll want to rely on someone with experience and expertise in this area to make sure you’re setting it up correctly. Elder law attorneys can also help set up advance care directives so you will have a conservator designated when the time comes.