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What is the difference between guardianship and conservatorship?

On Behalf of | May 23, 2024 | Estate Planning

Guardianship and conservatorship are two arrangements to protect people unable to make decisions for themselves.

In Minnesota, these terms refer to distinct roles that serve different purposes. Understanding these differences helps ensure proper care and management.

Guardianship: Personal welfare

Guardianship focuses on a person’s personal welfare and health care decisions. A guardian makes choices regarding the individual’s living arrangements, medical treatment and other personal matters. This arrangement may occur in cases of mental illness, disability or advanced age.

Conservatorship: Financial matters

Conservatorship revolves around managing the financial affairs and assets of an individual who cannot. A conservator handles tasks such as paying bills, managing investments and meeting the individual’s financial needs.

Legal process

In Minnesota, a person who is competent can choose their own future guardian or conservator by making a court request. Otherwise, getting guardianship or conservatorship involves petitioning the court and showing the need for such arrangements. The court evaluates the individual’s capacity to make decisions independently. It appoints guardians or conservators based on the best interests of the person experiencing incapacity.

A single person can serve as both guardian and conservator. This person takes on the combined responsibilities of ensuring the individual’s personal welfare and managing their financial matters.

The appointment of the same person to both roles can be helpful in several ways. For example, it reduces the potential for conflicts between separate guardians and conservators. It may mean decision-making with unified understandings of the individual’s overall situation and best interests.

By recognizing the distinct roles and responsibilities of guardians and conservators, families can navigate these arrangements with more clarity and confidence.