Michigan Attorneys Providing Excellence in Estate Planning and Elder Care

Guardianships, Conservatorships Explained

Excerpt from the Oakland Press here

A guardianship is a court proceeding over someone who is incapacitated and lacks sufficient understanding or capacity to make or communicate informed decisions. A petition, filed by someone interested in the welfare of that person, must state a specific reason such as: Mental illness, mental deficiency, physical illness or disability, chronic intoxication or chronic drug use.

The “interested persons” are notified. An attorney is appointed as “guardian ad litem” to visit the alleged legally incapacitated individual, explain the process, and make recommendations to the court. If the subject of the petition objects, an attorney is appointed to represent the person and a contested hearing is held.

If the judge finds that the legal criteria have been met, an appropriate guardian will be appointed. The guardian is usually a family member or friend, although if there is no one appropriate available, the court may appoint an agency or an attorney.

A guardian makes medical, housing and other personal decisions for that individual, known as their “ward.” Guardians must file Annual Reports to report on their ward’s status. In addition, the court must appoint someone to check out the situation in person one year after granting the guardianship and every three years thereafter. If you are interested in joining our great crew of volunteer reviewers, call our Case Management Coordinator, Carol Esher, at (248) 858-0288.

A conservatorship is a proceeding over someone who is unable to handle their financial affairs. It follows the same process as a guardianship. The statutory reasons are the same, with the additional criteria of “confinement, detention by a foreign power or disappearance.”

Again, a guardian ad litem is appointed to investigate and an attorney is appointed for the subject of the petition if he or she objects. Interested persons are notified and a hearing is held.

A judge will determine if the person meets the criteria as a “protected individual” and will appoint an appropriate conservator. The conservator must marshal, conserve and use the assets only for the benefit of the ward. Annual accounts, which specify where every penny is spent, must be filed with the court. Many individuals have both guardians and conservators.

You can avoid these type of court proceedings by planning ahead, and putting the proper safeguards in place instead of getting a Court involved.  To make sure you have a plan to avoid Court involvement, contact Mannor Law Office.


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