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Guardianships & Conservatorships

In a perfect world, all of our clients would have an established estate plan when they come to see us, which would allow a designated individual to act under a power of attorney for all their needs. However, for a number of reasons not everyone has an estate plan or has the mental capacity to establish an estate plan. In these circumstances, the individual would instead benefit from the assistance of a courtappointed guardian or conservator. Our skilled attorneys can assist you in the process of setting up a guardianship or conservatorship and filing all the necessary court paperwork. This process can be done both for adults in need of assistance and minor children.

In Michigan, there are two established methods of managing the affairs of another individual through the probate court, beyond that of the trustee. The first of the two methods is guardianship of the person, which is a traditional guardianship in which daytoday decisions, particularly involving medical care and personal care, are managed by the guardian. The second is a conservatorship, which involves the management of the estate/property of the individual. Courts sometimes appoint the same individual to fill both roles or separate individuals. The courts typically prefer to appoint family members before appointing an unrelated individual or professional guardian, however, such appointments are made if the relatives of the individual are not appropriate to serve as guardian and/or conservator.

Conservatorships

A conservatorship is established when a ward is in need of a person to make decisions on their behalf regarding the ward’s property or finances. A conservator may be required to open an account on the ward’s behalf and manage the ward’s funds from such account, provide a list of the ward’s assets to the court, account for how the ward’s funds are managed, and supervise the maintenance of the ward’s assets. Conservatorships, like guardianships, can be established for adults or minor children. As with guardianships, conservatorships are typically evaluated on a yearly basis to ensure that the conservatorship is in the best interest of the ward.

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Guardianship

A guardianship is established when an individual in need of protection (in the probate court this person is referred to as a ward) is determined to be unable to make decisions for themselves for reasons such as mental illness, developmental disability, or any other condition that would prevent them from managing their own care. This can be done for an adult or a minor. The courtappointed guardian would potentially be authorized to make decisions on behalf of the ward such as living arrangements and health care decisions. Traditional guardianships are reviewed annually to ensure that continuing the guardianship is in the best interest of the ward.