For all parties involved, the decision to legally remove an individual’s right to make decisions on his or her own behalf is a difficult one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. It often creates emotional tension within a family by placing an immense amount of responsibility on an appointed individual while leaving another individual (often a parent) struggling to accept his or her reduced mental capacity. Therefore, before making the decision to petition the probate court for guardianship or conservatorship, it’s important to understand both concepts so you can decide whether they are the right solution for your family.
What is a Guardianship?
A guardianship deals with an individual’s ability to make and communicate sound decisions about his or her health and safety. Someone who may be losing sufficient functional capacity to make decisions in this capacity may exhibit behaviors such as refusing to seek needed medical care, not eating properly or declining to eat, forgetting to take medications, hoarding, or not maintaining proper personal hygiene. However, the presence of these behaviors does not mean a guardianship is the proper course of action. First, family and friends should offer help and guidance to the individual. If the individual refuses help, or if a person who has a duty to assist, perhaps under a health care power of attorney, is not taking proper care of the individual, it may be time to consider the legal action of petitioning for a guardianship.
What is a Conservatorship?
A conservatorship deals with an individual’s ability to make and communicate decisions about his or her finances and investments. This may take the form of not regularly paying bills, making unusual investment or donation decisions, or being exploited or unduly influenced by someone who is taking advantage of the individual’s reduced mental capacity. Similar to a guardianship, family and loved ones should first offer help and guidance before petitioning for a conservatorship.
Common Disputes with Guardianships and Conservatorships
Unfortunately, it is common for disputes to arise when a family is dealing with guardianships or conservatorships, and these disagreements may take many forms. The individual whose mental capacity is in question may wish to fight the petition. Loved ones may believe the wrong person is being nominated to serve as guardian or conservator. And after the court appoints a guardian or conservator, family members or close friends may observe that the guardian or conservator is not acting in the ward’s best interests.
If you are facing a dispute involving a guardianship or conservatorship in Georgia, it’s essential to make decisions based on trusted legal expertise. The attorneys at Gaslowitz Frankel LLC have successfully represented interested parties in guardianship and conservatorship proceedings in probate courts throughout the state of Georgia. Our lawyers are knowledgeable and sympathetic to the unique issues that a family faces when evaluating whether a guardianship or conservatorship is appropriate for their loved ones. For trusted guidance in dealing with this important and sensitive issue, please consult with the attorneys at Gaslowitz Frankel.