Most people think of children when they hear the term “guardianship.” While most cases of guardianship certainly do involve minors, a fair share of cases involve adults who are either disabled or incompetent in some way. Many adult children may set up guardianship of their aging parents, for example, when they are no longer able to make financial decisions.
Adult guardianships of family members, also known as conservatorships, are usually only appropriate if certain conditions are present.
Situations that make conservatorships appropriate
According to Caring.com, two factors must exist for a conservatorship to be appropriate. The adult, also known as the ward, must be physically or mentally disabled to the point where he or she cannot make sound decisions. Also, the ward must already lack sufficient documents that detail his or her wishes regarding finances or medical decisions.
Even if the ward has certain legal documents already set up, it may be appropriate to set up a conservatorship if those documents are not enough. For example, if a power of attorney already exists detailing his or her wishes regarding medical and financial decisions, a conservatorship may still be appropriate to ensure personal needs are sufficient.
The role of the guardian during conservatorship
According to FindLaw, once someone obtains guardianship of an adult, he or she has a duty to make only the decisions that the ward cannot. Guardians are not meant to micromanage the life of the person, but they are meant to help make the best decisions possible regarding finance, healthcare and personal issues.
The court will likely require updates of the ward’s situation, including accounting for finances. It is important to understand that the role of the guardian is a decision-making one and not a caretaking one.