Sometimes the unexpected happens. An accident or sudden illness leaves someone unable to take care of personal business or make pressing decisions. If this occurs without a Power of Attorney or other plan in place, upon a petition being filed probate court will step in and appoint a guardian or conservator. The appointed person might not be the best one suited for your or your family’s particular needs.
At Morton & Gettys in Rock Hill, the estate planning attorneys can help you draw up documents that leave the decision with you rather than placing it in the hands of a court once you are unable to make it. We also can assist families who need assistance should a loved one become incapacitated due to injury or a health condition such as Alzheimer’s, dementia or other disability.
Though their roles are somewhat similar, there are important distinctions between the duties of a guardian and a conservator. A guardian’s duties often are broad and could involve anything from deciding where a person resides to a course for medical treatment. We are most familiar with the term when it is used in cases of children without parents, though it also can apply when an adult can no longer make decisions due to mental or physical illness, advanced age or chronic substance abuse.
A conservator, on the other hand, has a more-limited role. In general, those duties involve handling financial affairs such as paying bills and managing assets. In the case of a child who receives a significant amount of money from either an inheritance or legal settlement, a conservator must be appointed.
If both a guardian and a conservator are necessary, they can be the same person though that does not have to be the case. The roles of either can be very broad or very limited, depending on the needs in each situation.
The estate planning lawyers at Morton & Gettys have decades of experience helping Rock Hill families navigate these emotionally difficult and legally complex situations. We can assist clients with pre-planning, and we also can advise clients in emergency situations.