Understanding the Difference Between Conservatorship and Guardianship

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In the state of California, individuals who are unable to care for themselves may be appointed a Conservator or Guardian by a legal court proceeding to assume the rights and responsibilities of the individual.

It is important to know the difference when establishing a Conservatorship or Guardianship since they are very similar matters under California Probate Law. Our experienced estate planning attorney at Abrate & Olsen Law Group will make sure you and your family matters are handled with care and empathy.

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What is a Guardianship?

A Guardianship is a formal court proceeding to appoint a person, who is qualified to make decisions and care for a minor, the “Ward”. In the state of California, a minor is anyone who is under the legal age of 18 years. Guardians are established when the parent of a child is unable to care for them, has passed away, or is incapacitated.

Typically, the parents of the minor nominates a Guardian to care for the minor if the parents no longer are able to care for the minor. Otherwise, the California Superior Court must appoint a guardian for the minor. A Guardian’s responsibilities include managing financial affairs, health care, education, housing and other personal care.

What is a Conservatorship?

A Conservatorship is a formal court proceeding to appoint a Conservator who is qualified to manage the finances, health or other affairs of a person who is no longer able to reasonably care for himself or herself, called the Conservatee.

A conservatorship may be appropriate when an adult becomes incapacitated,as a result of an accident or an illness. When a court determines the person is incapacitated, and the Conservatorship has been established, the Conservatee must relinquish control over their own affairs when the Conservator has been established.

When a Conservator is responsible for the Conservatee, he or she must manage the affairs of the Conservatee’s housing, financials, medical treatment, and other personal care. A conservator can be a family member, friend or business entity.

“When it came to selecting an attorney for a Conservatorship for my mom I wasn’t sure where to begin. After doing my research I found Abrate & Olsen Law Group because I was impressed with Mike’s work and his reviews. Mike helped me establish my Conservatorship and now he’s handling other business affairs of mine! I highly recommend him as your attorney! Feels great to have all my legal stuff in order.”
~ Chris K. – Yuba City, CA

Guardianship vs Conservatorship

The significant difference between a Guardianship and Conservatorship, is that a Guardianship is assigned by the court for a minor, while a Conservatorship is enforced for adults. Each legal proceeding cannot be created without an order by a judge and can be an expensive legal process.

A Guardian may be nominated as part of an Estate Plan, for a minor in the event that a parent is unable to care for them. In contrast, a Conservatorship is established after the individual is incapacitated and the court would appoint a Conservator.

Overall, both legal proceedings are public and expensive but Conservatorships are established for financial needs while Guardianships are for minors for personal and health-related needs.

Experienced Legal Professionals

When you are ready, Abrate & Olsen Law Group are here to help you and your family through any legal counsel. Contact our law office to schedule a FREE consultation today.

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