Guardians and Conservators What’s the Difference and Why They’re Important

Living will

Nobody ever plans on becoming incapacitated and not being able to make decisions for themselves. The sad fact of life is that this is a strong possibility. Things such as estate planning, Medicaid planning, a power of attorney and a living will should be decided upon beforehand. Planning saves possible conflicts, family feuds and insurance problems related to Medicaid planning later down the road and ensures that your wishes are adhered to.


The guardian is the person appointed to assume control of the individual’s health care issues, concerns, place of residence and finances. The main role of the guardian is the see that the day-to-day needs of an incapacitated adult are handled properly. The person in charge of the incapacitated adult is referred to as the “ward.” The ward is usually in charge of making sure that all-medical treatment is taken care and meeting the incapacitated adult’s personal needs.


A conservator is a person appointed guardian of the property. This person is court appointed to handle the financial affairs of an incapacitated adult. This person handles real estate ordeals and manages bank accounts and any investments the incapacitated individual may have had. Duties of the conservatorship can range from making sure bills are paid in a timely manner to buying and selling stocks and bonds. Managing rental properties are other responsibilities of the conservator.


Having a guardian or conservator ensures that a court oversees the appointed person to fulfill their duties. Having someone to hold them accountable means that the person responsible must answer to someone and account for their actions. This reduces individuals attempting to secure all financial property for just themselves, and also reduces quarrels between family members.


Disadvantages associated with establishing guardianship or conservatorship for an incapacitated adult includes legal fees. Court involvement means that there are legal fees involved and that court dates must be set. These court dates can be set for months apart leading to a long drawn out legal process, which can cost a substantial amount of money.

How Wills Help
Over half of Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 do not have a will, and approximately 64% of the entire public has no form of a will. Having a living will helps establish and appoint agents in place to handle your personal and financial needs in the event that you become incapacitated. A will removes the need for attorneys or courts. Without court intervention, family members will know who does what without any quarreling and fighting over how to handle certain medical or financial aspects.

Make sure that you plan ahead to avoid unforeseen circumstances, and encourage your loved ones to do the same. From the years 2000 to 2010, the amount of seniors with living wills jumped from 47% to 72%. Medicaid planning and estate planning should be something that is done in advance and not left to last minute rushed decisions. Advanced planning ensures that everything is in place when needed and nothing is missed in the event that a conservator or guardian must be appointed for an incapacitated adult.

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