Few things are more difficult to come to terms with than the reality that a family member is unable to manage their own finances or care for their personal needs. Whether the incapacity is physical or mental in nature, you may need to pursue a guardianship or conservatorship, or both, in order to protect your loved one.
- A Guardianship is a legal relationship that protects those who are incapable of making personal decisions about things such as where to live and how to manage their own medical care.
- A Conservatorship protects a legally incapacitated individuals’ financial interests. Conservators pay the bills, and manage the finances and property of legally incapacitated individuals (also known as wards).
Often, people who are legally incapacitated due to age, dementia, physical disability, mental illness, substance abuse, or other reasons need both a conservator and a guardian. A minor child whose parents are no longer available to care for him or her also needs someone to serve in both capacities.
The same person may (but need not) serve as both guardian and conservator. Though a potential ward may petition for a conservator or guardian, it is typically a family member who identifies the need and petitions for the appointment, usually in the Probate Court for the Michigan county in which the proposed ward resides.