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Guardianship & Conservatorship Explained

Posted on April 16th, 2020

If you are concerned about a loved one’s well-being and you’re looking for a guardianship attorney, the attorney’s knowledge and experience in these areas is crucial. Guardianship and conservatorship mean different things in different states. The forms, petitions, laws, and rules surrounding guardianships (and conservatorships) can be confusing and complicated. A knowledgeable and experienced guardianship lawyer will be very familiar with the differences between guardianships and conservatorships. They will also be experienced in managing the process from beginning to end so the proposed guardian can focus on administering care to their loved one.


When a person becomes incapacitated due to physical ailment, disease, or mental illness, they also become unable to manage their personal affairs. Sometimes, case management and community advocacy programs aren’t enough to help people care for their incapacitated loved ones. There are also different levels of incapacitation. If your loved one’s level of incapacitation moves from partial to total, or temporary to permanent, a guardianship will be needed. They will need a court to appoint someone as a guardian for their person and as a conservator to manage their finances. A guardian is responsible for ensuring the incapacitated individual has clothing, housing, meals, medication, and assistance with activities of daily living. While a parent has the right to make decisions for their minor children, when an incapacitated minor turns eighteen, the parent no longer has the right. The parent will have to apply to the court for a guardianship.


Guardianship and conservatorship may have different definitions, but they often go hand-in-hand. A conservator manages the incapacitated person’s finances. Some incapacitated persons will never be able to hold a job or may never be able to work enough to earn more than a few thousand dollars a year. A conservatorship may not be necessary in all cases, if the incapacitated person is receiving, or will in the future receive, benefits under a federal government program, then a conservatorship should be sought through the courts. The federal government does not recognize state-valid powers of attorney – they only recognize court orders.


An experienced guardianship lawyer will also help you with the court process. In each guardianship case, the court appoints an attorney to represent the incapacitated person. The court will also appoint a visitor to investigate the incapacitated person’s situation and living conditions. The visitor will come to the home to conduct interviews with both the person who is incapacitated and their proposed guardian. The visitor will also review any pertinent documents such as medical records and conduct criminal background checks on the proposed guardian. A doctor will then be called upon to examine and report to the court on the incapacitated person’s medical and cognitive status.


Rely on knowledge and experience for the needs of your incapacitated loved one. An experienced guardianship and conservatorship attorney will walk you through the procedure from petition to hearing. Their law office will keep track of all deadlines and send all notices required by law so you can focus on caring for your loved one. Rely on knowledge and experience for the needs of your incapacitated loved one.


Fill out the form below to get in touch with our legal team or call Bozeman office at (406) 582-8822 or our Helena office at (406) 449-4829 to talk to someone right away.

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Bozeman, MT 59715

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Helena, MT 59601

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