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Guardianships and Conservatorships

When elderly individuals become incapacitated and are incapable of taking care of themselves, a Complaint may be filed with the Court to appoint a guardian of the person and/or estate of that individual.

After the Complaint is filed, the Court will hold a Guardianship hearing and render its decision as to the incapacity of the subject individual.  If the Court finds the individual to be incapacitated it will determine who shall serve as guardian.  The appointed guardian is then responsible for making personal, medical and financial decisions on behalf of the incapacitated individual.

This authority may be limited and must be in the best interests of the incapacitated individual.  Guardianship actions are most commonly brought when an elderly individual suffers from debilitating dementia or when an individual with special needs reaches the age of majority. Some guardianship matters are contested, either by the alleged incapacitated individual or by another interested party who may object to the appointment of a particular individual as guardian.

A Conservatorship is similar to a Guardianship but does not require that an individual be declared incapacitated. In these cases, the Court would make a determination that the individual’s ability to make proper decisions regarding his or her personal or financial affairs is impaired and the individual needs a caregiver.  Unlike in a Guardianship proceeding, if the allegedly incapacitated person objects to the appointment of a Conservator, the matter cannot proceed.

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