Bratton Scott Protects the Unique Legal Needs of Guardians and Conservators in NJ and PA
With any luck, and some planning, you will hopefully live to a ripe old age and be able to take care of all your personal and financial needs. Not everyone is so lucky. If illness or accident strikes, some people find they need assistance handling their legal and financial affairs as they age.
If you are the spouse, adult child or other loved one of a person who is not able to make decisions on their own, you may be able to convince a court to grant you guardianship or conservatorship over relatives who are elderly or incapacitated. The knowledgeable lawyers at Bratton Scott have helped many people, like you, obtain the legal authority they need to make decisions involving their loved ones’ care. We also help the parents of children with special needs obtain similar authority once their children become adults.
What Are Guardianships and Conservatorships?
Both guardianships and conservatorships are court-ordered legal relationships that give one person, multiple people, or an agency the responsibility for the personal affairs of a “protected” person.
A conservatorship is generally limited to the management of the property and financial affairs of a protected person.
A guardianship is usually less limited. Guardians can have legal authority over a “protected” person’s health, care, and safety, as well as their financial affairs. Authority means the right to make decisions about where the person lives, daily living issues and how their assets are handled and preserved.
Guardianships and conservatorships can be:
- Permanent – They last until a judge appoints a new guardian or conservator or a court decides to end the guardian or conservator relationship.
- Temporary – In this case, a judge will grant guardianship or conservatorship for a limited period of time, such as three months, while a loved one is recuperating from an injury or illness, for example.
- Joint – This ruling gives more than one person or agency the ability to make decisions on the protected person’s behalf.
The Responsibilities of a Conservator or Guardian
While a guardian or conservator should try to include the “protected” person in the decision process as much as is realistically possible, the ultimate responsibility for decision-making lies with the guardian/conservator. They must always act in the best interests of the protected person and will be held accountable for not taking proper steps. The guardian/conservator should have authority to use some of the protected person’s assets for necessary expenses relating to their care. Guardians and conservators should not have to use their own funds.
A Power of Attorney May Be a Simpler Solution
If your aging loved one has the capacity to give you power of attorney, you will legally be able to act on their behalf without getting a court involved. The proper legal preparation of these documents, however, is critical to make sure that all parties are protected. When power of attorney is insufficient or not obtainable, for any reason, a conservatorship or guardianship may be a remedy.
Contact Bratton Scott for Guardianship and Conservatorship Advice
Agreeing to take on a guardianship or conservatorship should not be a decision you make lightly. If you do agree to take on these responsibilities, you should make sure you are protected by carefully drafted legal documents that will stand up to family conflict.
Call 856-857-6007 or fill out our convenient online form for a consultation with an experienced attorney at Bratton Scott. We have New Jersey offices in Haddonfield, Linwood, and Ewing, as well as one in Philadelphia, PA. We represent clients in all neighboring locations.