Can You Contest a Guardianship or Conservatorship?

In recent months, there have been numerous high profile guardianship and conservatorship cases in the news. While you may be familiar with those cases and some of the details, you might be wondering: Can you contest a guardianship or conservatorship in court? The following examines the answer to that question in further detail.

When is a Guardianship or Conservatorship Necessary?

Guardianships and/or conservatorships become necessary when someone is incapacitated and therefore unable to care for their own needs. Common instances include individuals suffering from cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, or individuals who have a developmental disability.

Due to these medical conditions, these individuals are deemed to be in positions in which they cannot handle their own financial or personal matters. When this occurs, someone – typically a close relative – can petition the court to name a legal guardian or conservator for the incapacitated individual. It is also important to note that the terms “guardianship” and “conservatorship” vary in meaning from state to state.

Who is Able to Object to a Guardianship or Conservatorship in Court?

Any interested party can object to a guardian or conservator being chosen for the incapacitated individual. This can be done when the contesting party feels that a guardianship or conservatorship is not necessary. Additionally, the interested party can challenge the person chosen as guardian or conservator if they believe that individual is unfit for the role.

Who is Considered an Interested Party?

An interested party can include the following:

  • The petitioner (typically a close relative who chooses to contest the guardianship or conservatorship)
  • The incapacitated individual
  • Individuals who are close to the incapacitated individual, such as a spouse, relatives and close friends

It is important to note that a guardianship or conservatorship will be put into place only if the court determines that the alleged incapacitated individual is actually incapacitated and cannot handle their own affairs.

Why Would the Court Remove a Guardian or Conservator From the Role?

Those seeking to remove a guardian or conservator can petition to do so for several reasons. Some of these reasons include the following:

  • The guardian or conservator is not acting in the best interest of the incapacitated individual. This can include misusing funds, not caring for the person’s needs, etc.
  • A more appropriate guardian or conservator has been identified by the court
  • The incapacitated individual’s condition has improved to the point the court deems a guardian or conservator no longer necessary

How Can a Guardian or Conservator Be Removed from the Role?

A guardian or conservator cannot simply be removed from their role because an interested party objects to it. The interested party must petition the court to have the guardian or conservator removed, and in doing so, must provide sufficient evidence as to why this person should be removed from the role. If the court does determine that the current guardian or conservator is unfit for the role in some way, a new guardian or conservator may be appointed, or in the case of the incapacitated individual no longer needing a guardian or conservator, the court will end the guardianship or conservatorship.

For any questions regarding guardianship, conservatorship or the process of contesting in court, or any other assistance with your estate planning needs, we are here to help. Contact us today to learn more about how we can work with you.

For more information regarding various estate planning and elder law topics, view our resources page, where you will be able to find previous blog articles, newsletters and our informative webinar series.

Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

About the Author

Alyssa Marie Monteleon, Esq.

Alyssa Marie Monteleon is an elder law and estate planning attorney at the Monteleon Law Group, PLLC with offices in New York and Virginia. For more information, please visit or call (914) 840-2529.

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