Everything You Should Know About Guardianship vs. Conservatorship

When a loved one is unable to continue making their own decisions, it’s possible to request guardianship or conservatorship by submitting the request to a New Jersey court. In 2017, there were around 1.3 million conservatorship and guardianship cases in place. Before you consider this option, it’s important to understand how conservatorship differs from guardianship.

How a Conservatorship Differs From a Guardianship

Whether you obtain a conservatorship or guardianship, it must be court-ordered before it can be applied to your case. Family members will typically request one of these options when a loved one doesn’t have the ability to make decisions for themselves. If another individual needs to have legal authority on behalf of someone else, a conservatorship or guardianship may be necessary.

There are several reasons to consider this legal action. For one, a conservatorship or guardianship could be required in situations where your loved one is suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s. The same is true if a child of yours has special needs and has reached 18 years old. This type of legal action could also be appropriate if a family member is unable to properly manage their affairs because they are affected by a serious illness or injury.

Despite the many similarities between conservatorship and guardianship, there are some clear differences that you should understand. However, keep in mind that these terms don’t have exact legal definitions, which means that they can differ from state to state. When a court grants guardianship, the person deemed to be the “guardian” can make an array of medical and personal decisions for the individual in their care.

In comparison, conservatorships are typically much more limited. In most cases, someone who becomes a conservator for a loved one can only make investments, pay bills, and handle other types of financial decisions. Knowing the difference between these two terms is important to ensure that you’re seeking the right legal action for your specific case.

Legal Guardianship

In New Jersey, legal guardianship is commonly used for estate planning purposes. When creating your will, you can designate someone to serve as a legal guardian for your child or children if both parents die. If a legal guardian hasn’t been designated in your will at the time of your death, the court will be able to determine what happens to your children if they are under the age of 18.

Keep in mind that guardianship can be sought over a person or an estate. It’s also possible to obtain guardianship for a person and estate at the same time. When you obtain guardianship over someone, you will be responsible for the care and well-being of the person in question. You will also be tasked with making healthcare decisions as well as everyday decisions. If you’ve been appointed as a guardian for a child, the decisions you’ll be expected to make will extend to school decisions.

Limited Conservatorship

As touched upon previously, a conservatorship is considerably more limited when compared to guardianship. In most cases, a conservatorship will involve making financial decisions for the person in question. However, it’s also possible to obtain a conservatorship for personal decisions.

While you can become a conservator for both personal and financial matters, guardianship may be the preferred option if you believe that your loved one would want you to have more control over the decisions they would typically make. Our estate planning lawyers can help you determine whether a conservatorship or guardianship is right for your situation.

Seeking Help From Our Estate Planning Litigation Lawyer

If you’re in the process of making a will or creating a comprehensive estate plan, you might want to request the assistance of our New Jersey estate planning litigation lawyer. We can help you understand the difference between these two legal actions while also giving you a good idea of which one you might need. If you want someone to be a legal guardian for your child in the event of your death, we can help you create a will that recognizes this decision.

You might also require our assistance if you’re involved in a legal dispute regarding a will or estate plan. If you want to seek a conservatorship or guardianship for a family member or loved one, it’s important to understand that your request will be decided in court. Our lawyers can help you prepare and file all of the necessary documents to have a guardianship or conservatorship appointed.

If you’re thinking about taking legal action to appoint a conservator or guardian for your loved one, call our New Jersey estate planning litigation lawyers today at (201) 996-1200 to learn more about our guardianship services.