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Before you file, know why you are filing for a guardianship or conservatorship and make sure you have spoken with an attorney to make sure you actually need one. Guardianships and conservatorships require annual reports and conservatorships require a bond which is an additional expense and lots of record keeping for the person acting as a guardian or conservator.

A guardianship gives someone control of another person’s body and decisions affecting their body such as where they live, doctors they see, treatments they receive, medications they take, etc. Guardianships become necessary if you have someone without capacity who is over 18 and cannot make or communicate their own decisions or wishes with regard to their medical care or their finances or if they are making decisions that place them in harm’s way or waste their resources. Guardianships can be granted for people who are not incapacitated or incapacitated only sometimes. The point of a guardianship is to provide support – in a similar manner as a parent would for a child – as needed while always acting in the best interest of the person for whom guardianship is granted (called the ward).

A conservatorship gives someone control of another person’s finances and permits someone to help prevent waste such as in cases where someone sends $100,000 in checks for sweepstakes ads in a single year when their estate is worth only $400,000. These determinations are made based on the amount someone has and the need for supervision by another usually because the estate is being wasted and funds will run out before the end of the person’s lifetime who is wasting the funds. Oftentimes, families can find a way to work around requesting a formal conservatorship. Talk to an attorney to find out how you can do this.

If you find that you need to file, it is definitely important to know your local court and judge when filing a guardianship or conservatorship petition. In Forsyth County Probate Court, our judge wants a separate application with much of the same information as is in the original petition as well as a criminal background check form and a copy of the driver’s license with each petition for guardianship.