There may come a time in someone’s life when they become incapacitated, due to medical reasons or physical injuries, and are unable to protect themselves or make reasonable decisions about their personal affairs. When this happens, a “guardian” or a “conservator” can be appointed to make these important life decisions for them. In general, both Guardianships and Conservatorships involve the appointment of a person, by a Court, to oversee some aspect of another person’s life. However, the power that the appointed “guardian” or “conservator” has over the incapacitated person, known as a “ward” in the context of a guardianship and “conservatee” in the context of a conservatorship, is different in scope.
In Arizona, a guardian is someone the court appoints to make decisions for an incapacitated adult or a minor child. The guardian has similar powers that a parent has over their own minor child. For example, the guardian can decide where the “ward” will live, prevent the “ward” from selling certain property and tell the “ward” who they should ‘hang-out’ with. Conversely, the guardian has the obligation to make decisions to keep the “ward” safe and report to the court on the “ward’s” status.
In contrast, a conservator in Arizona only manages and protects an incapacitated adult or minor child’s financial affairs. The need to appoint a conservator may arise when the incapacitated person can no longer manage their own finances properly. This may happen when someone becomes elderly and begins to suffer from dementia or when they lose the mental ability to make important financial decisions after an accident. In such a situation, the person may forget to pay bills, may give away large assets without a good reason to do so, and be more vulnerable to predatory acts. Overall, it is the conservator’s responsibility to protect the person’s money and property from being squandered. From managing the conservatee’s bank accounts, paying their monthly bills and health care costs, and safeguarding their investments, the conservator has a duty to financially protect the incapacitated person.
Overall, in Arizona, a conservator protects a person’s estate (their financial affairs) while a guardian protects the person’s own self or body. For example, the conservator is allowed to take money belonging to the protected person in order to buy them food or pay for their housing. In contrast, the guardianship has the power to require a feeding tube be inserted in the protected person to provide nourishment as well as what kind of accmmodations the incapacitated person should live in. Often times these two powers overlap and it is not uncommon for one person to have the power of a guardian and conservator.
As you can see, both Guardianships and Conservatorships serve similar but different functions. It is important to remember that only a licensed Arizona attorney can advise you on whether you should choose a Guardianship or a Conservatorship. Once you have decided, an Arizona Paralegal can make the technical legal process easy.
For more information regarding how an Arizona paralegal can help you set up a Guardianship or Conservatorship, contact us at (520) 327-4000 or visit us online at tucsonprobateparalegal.com.
Note: The above information is provided for your convenience. It is not intended to be legal advice of any kind. No attorney/client relationship is created by you reading this information. If you have legal questions, please contact an attorney.