Guardianship & Conservatorship

Guardianship & Conservatorship: Definitions and What We Can Do to Help

If you are a caretaker for a parent or family member or your disabled child is about to reach adulthood, it may be time to make your role as a guardian official.

What Are Guardians and Conservators? Understanding the Basics

Guardians and conservators are individuals that are appointed by a court to protect an individual that has been deemed incapacitated or otherwise unable to make decisions for their own care. In many cases, a family member is appointed by the court to act as the legal guardian or the conservator over the incapacitated person.

The difference between a guardian and a conservator lies in the type of decisions each is allowed to make. A guardian is a person who is appointed to make decisions about the incapacitated person’s general affairs. On the other hand, a conservator is a person who is appointed to make decisions about the incapacitated person’s financial affairs.

Why is Guardianship and Conservatorship Important?

Guardianship and conservatorship is very important, and is something that should be handled with care because it affects an individual’s civil rights and restricts an individual’s personal freedom. A guardian is only appointed through a court proceeding to ensure that this is in the best interest of the person who is incapacitated.

For more information about obtaining guardianship over someone that is in need of help making decisions on their own, contact us for a consultation.

Do Guardianship and Conservatorship Laws Differ by State?

Guardianship and conservatorship is governed by state law; therefore, legal definitions of incapacitation may differ depending on where you live.

Guardianship in New York: What Do You Need to Know?

There are different types of guardianship laws in New York State. The table and descriptions below will help you understand more about the different types of guardianship laws in New York State.

Guardianship in New York State: What Are the Different Types?

Guardianship for a Minor in New York

If a parent dies, becomes ill, moves out of the country, or in any other way loses the ability to care for their child, this child will need a legal guardian to care for them.

Guardianship for developmentally or intellectually disabled adults in New York

In New York State, once an individual reaches the age of 18, that person is legally considered an adult, and it is expected that the individual is capable of making their own decisions. However, adults with developmental or intellectual disabilities may not be capable of making decisions on their own, and therefore require a guardian. Examples of decisions a developmentally disabled adult may need a guardian for include medical care and financial management.

Guardianship for an incapacitated adult

A guardianship in New York may also be required for adults who experience a life-changing injury or illness that leaves them unable to make their own decisions. This often occurs in cases where an individual develops Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

Guardianship in Virginia: What Do You Need to Know?

Much like in other states, in Virginia, a guardian is the legally-appointed person in charge of an incapacitated individual’s general affairs (such as medical care, safety, etc.). A conservator in Virginia is responsible for handling an incapacitated individual’s financial affairs. By Virginia state law, a petition for guardianship or conservatorship can be filed for an individual over the age of 18 at any point after that person has become incapacitated. For incapacitated individuals (referred to as “respondents” in Virginia) under the age of 18, a petition cannot be sought before the respondent reaches the age of 17 years, 6 months old.

What We Can Do to Help

If you find yourself in the position where you need to obtain guardianship, do not hesitate to reach out to us. Our firm has offices located in White Plains, New York; Alexandria, Virginia; and Fredericksburg, Virginia.