Guardianship vs Conservatorship: Difference and Comparison

Guardianship and Conservatorship are probably some of the words which cause confusion in the minds of the people. So many individuals think that both the terms are the same.

This is because a family member takes care of another member and has the right to make certain decisions. However, there are major differences between the two. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Guardianship pertains to legal authority over an individual’s personal and healthcare decisions, while conservatorship deals with financial management and decision-making.
  2. Guardians are responsible for the ward’s well-being, whereas conservators handle the financial assets of the protected person.
  3. Guardianship can apply to minors or incapacitated adults, while conservatorship is specifically for adults who cannot manage their financial affairs.

Guardianship vs Conservatorship 

Guardianship is a situation where a minor who loses their parents is given into the custody of a legal guardian, who is appointed by the court. Conservatorship is a case in which an adult is appointed to take care of another adult who is not in a state to look after themselves, like a disabled person.

Guardianship vs Conservatorship

Guardianship is a situation in which a minor who has lost his parents is given into the custody of a legal guardian. The legal guardian is chosen by the parents and, if not then appointed by the court.

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The guardian is given the responsibility of taking care of the child, his basic requirements, and finances.

Conservatorship is a situation in which an adult is appointed to take care of another adult who has developed a disability or is not in a state to look after oneself. The conservator is mostly the adult’s parent, friend, or partner.

The main focus of the conservator is the conservatee’s finances.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonGuardianshipConservatorship 
MeaningIt is a case where a court-appointed individual can make an incapacitated minor’s decisions.  It is a case where a court-appointed individual can make an incapacitated adult’s decisions.
AppointmentThe guardian is mostly selected by the biological parents. The conservator is mostly a biological parent or a partner.
DecisionsHere, the decisions are mostly regarding day-to-day activities and personal life.Here the decisions are mostly regarding the financial activities of an adult.
Age groupIn most cases of guardianship, the age group is below 18 years.In most cases of conservatorship, the age group is above 18 years.
TypeThere are three types of guardianship: Informal guardianship, Temporary legal guardianship, and Permanent legal guardianship.There are two types: General conservatorship and Limited conservatorship.

What is Guardianship?

The term Guardianship is often defined differently in different states. However, in general, it has the same meaning. Guardianship or legal guardianship is basically the appointment of a person to have a legal responsibility for the concerned person.

The legal guardian is chosen by the biological parents of the child.

If anything happens to the biological parents, the guardian gets legal custody of the child. He is responsible for carrying out the essential duties of a parent, like taking care of the child and his needs.

Additionally, the legal guardian is a temporary guardian of the child’s estate and the money which the parents have left behind.

For example, A and B have a child C and then choose D as their legal guardian. After two years, they have an accident that leads to the death of A and B.

As a result, the child is an orphan. In this case, with the permission of the court, D will take the responsibility of raising C. And until he comes of age or is independent, D will have to take care of him as well as his financial estate.

In some cases, the parents do not choose a legal guardian. If they both die before the child turns 18, the court will decide the future custody of the child and his estate.

What is Conservatorship?

In a situation where an adult person finds oneself to be incapable of taking care of themselves, there is a need for a conservatorship.

In a conservatorship, the court appoints another person from the family or friends circle to take care of the concerned person.

The person who takes care is called the conservatory, and the person who is taken care of is called the conservatee. In these cases, the conservator majorly focuses on looking after the finances of the conservatee. 

For Example, A is someone in his twenties who has a good amount of money but has developed a drug addiction. Because of this, he has been in rehab but still has not completely recovered and is facing mental health issues as well.

Due to this, his mother thinks he is incapable of taking care of himself or his finances and applies for conservatorship. If the court agrees, then the mother will be responsible for A and his finances.

There can be another case in which an individual has developed a disability from an accident and is not able to look after himself or his finances. In such a case, too, the court may appoint a conservator.

Main Differences Between Guardianship and Conservatorship

  1. Guardianship is a case where a court-appointed individual can make an incapacitated minor’s decisions. Conservatorship is a case where a court-appointed individual can make an incapacitated adult’s decisions.
  2. A legal guardian is mostly selected by the biological parents. In contrast, a conservator is mostly a biological parent or a partner.
  3. In Guardianship, the decisions are mostly regarding day-to-day activities and personal life. In Conservatorship, the decisions are mostly regarding the financial activities of an adult.
  4. In most cases of guardianship, the age group is below 18 years. In most cases of conservatorship, the age group is above 18 years.
  5. There are three types of guardianship: Informal guardianship, Temporary legal guardianship, and Permanent legal guardianship. There are two types of conservatorship: General conservatorship and Limited conservatorship.
References
  1. https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/0-306-47922-2_8.pdf
  2. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1982-32553-001

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