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Guardianship and Conservatorship

What’s the Difference Between a Guardianship and a Conservatorship?

Guardianship is a legal arrangement that places an individual, known as a ward or protected person, under the supervision of a guardian. Guardianship deals with a person’s body and health.

Conservatorship deals with the person’s money and property. The same person can hold both roles, but they are separate functions.

Guardianship of Elderly Parent or a Minor

A protected person can be a minor with or without a parent or an adult. The protected person can no longer make sound decisions about one’s self or one’s finances. A guardian is typically a family member, friend or fiduciary appointed by the court.

A guardian is sometimes appointed for a child when the parent is still alive but is unable to provide shelter and basic needs, has no steady income, is ill, or incarcerated. Unlike an adoption, under a guardianship, a parent may remain responsible for supporting the child financially and does not necessarily forfeit the parental rights. In most instances, parental approval of a guardianship is sought prior to any legal proceeding.

Guardianship of Elderly Parent

Conservatorship grants authority over the protected person’s financial matters such as paying bills, transferring funds between accounts, withdrawing monies, selling valuables and real estate, making investment decisions, and redirecting inheritances to others.

Guardianship grants authority over the protected person’s personal well-being including making important life decisions such as marrying and voting. A guardian is normally tasked with determining and maintaining residence, providing consent to and supervising medical treatment, consenting to and supervising behavioral counseling and psychiatric treatment, maintaining the protected person’s autonomy, making end-of-life decisions and funeral arrangements. Guardianship also grants authority over the protected person’s driver license, residence, firearms, and lawsuits.

Right to Due Process

To safeguard the rights to due process, the protected person is usually provided with notice of a guardianship action and is entitled to attend legal proceedings related to guardianship. The protected person may be represented by an attorney, present evidence, confront those desiring the guardianship, and cross-examine witnesses.

Don’t Wait For a Crisis

The time to put legal plans in place is before a crisis occurs. Couples with children and adults with elderly parents can protect their loved ones in case something happens that causes temporary or permanent incapacity, issues that are hard to anticipate.


Call us today at 205-663-0281 to schedule a consultation. John R. Holliman or Melanie B. Holliman (formerly Melanie B. Bradford) will help you assess if a conservatorship or guardianship is right so that you can take care of your loved one.