What is the difference between a guardianship and a conservatorship?

1 answer | Last updated: Nov 23, 2016
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What is the difference between a guardianship and a conservatorship?


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Barbara Repa, a Caring.com senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

In some states, it is a distinction without a difference. The two terms mean essentially the same thing: that a person is appointed to take over for another who is judged to be mentally or physically incompetent.

But some states add a twist, using the term conservator to refer to arrangements for those over 18 years old, and guardians for minors in need of care.

And many state laws specify that in a conservatorship, a court appoints a person or corporation, called the conservator, to make decisions about the money and property of another person. And in a guardianship, the person or corporation designated the guardian is authorized to make personal decisions for the other person, such as where he or she lives and what type of medical care should be given. One person can be responsible for both financial and personal decisions, or the responsibilities may be divided between two or more people.