A guardian is someone appointed by the courts to make personal decisions for a person unable to do so for themselves. It can be because that person is a minor or incapacitated adult. A guardian for a minor is usually not necessary unless the minor has no living parent or if the parents are no longer able to care for the child.
In the case of an adult, it is necessary if the incapacitated adult cannot make decisions in his or her own best interest. A close relative usually is appointed if one is available and willing to take on the responsibility.
Conservators are appointed by the courts to handle the finances of a minor or incapacitated adult. Strict rules govern the appointment and supervision of conservators. The courts require bonding and annual accountings in most cases. The cost of establishing a guardianship and conservatorship is usually quite expensive.
Many times the need for a guardian and or a conservator can be eliminated by proper estate planning. Parents of minor children can appoint a guardian for their children in a last will and trustees can be appointed to handle any inheritance a minor might inherit.
Competent adults can create estate planning documents that not only provide who will inherit their assets, but also provide who will assist them with finances if they become incapacitated before death.
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