Michigan residents may have often heard references to guardianships and conservatorships and assume that they are similar or even the same. That is actually not so. While both a guardianship and a conservatorship can protect the health and welfare of an incapacitated adult or child, each focuses on specific rights and responsibilities. Understanding the difference between the two is important before seeking one or the other.
The Institute of Continuing Legal Education website indicates that a conservatorship pertains specifically to financial and asset management. It is not related to any care needs of the minor or adult. A conservator may make decisions on behalf of the ward for issues related to real estate, bank accounts, stocks or other investments, insurance policies and the like. This person must adhere to standards similar to that of a trustee.
AccessKent.com explains that most forms of guardianship provide actual care for a disabled child, an incapacitated adult or other person in need of care but unable to care for themselves. A guardian at litem is slightly different insofar as this is set up in order to provide legal representation for another party. Guardianships that intend to set up direct care of another party can be created for a minor or an adult. They can be implemented to cover emergency or temporary situations or designed to be permanent. A guardianship can also dictate very specific power that will be allowed instead of offering full control.
There can be many reasons that lead someone to pursue a guardianship or a conservatorship. Knowing what each of these can do up front will help to make the process easier.