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Cathy Richards

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Guardian/
Conservator Appointment Process

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Public Administrator - The Guardian/Conservator Appointment Process

Definition of guardianship: it is the legal process of assisting a person, whose mental disability has caused incompetence, in making decisions for herself/himself regarding personal affairs (such as place of residence and medical care). When a person has been adjudged by the Probate Court to be mentally incapacitated and incapable of making informed decisions without the risk of harm, then a guardian may be appointed. A person under guardianship is known as a ward.

Conservatorship deals only with the financial affairs of an individual. A conservator may be appointed by the Probate Court when an individual does not have the capacity to manage his or her financial affairs. A person under conservatorship is known as a proctectee.

Appointment process for Guardian/Conservator

There are four types of mental disability and incapacitation that may cause the probate court to appoint a guardian and/or conservator:

To declare someone incompetent, the above disabilities are not by themselves sufficient reasons. To be incompetent, the person cannot make an informed decision without the risk of harm that may be experienced as a result of inability to provide for him/her or manage his/her affairs.

Sometimes a conservator may be appointed because the person’s physical ability impairs their ability to handle his/her financial affairs.

Some incapacitated persons are able to make responsible decisions in some areas, but not all areas of their lives. In this situation, guardianship and/or conservatorship may be limited by the court to only those areas in which the incapacitated person is unable to make responsible decisions.

Guardianship/conservatorship is the most restrictive form of protection given to mentally disabled and incapacitated individuals and should be used only when less restrictive measures are not adequate to meet their needs.

Step one in the appointment process:

A guardianship/conservatorship is a relationship where one person places trust and confidence in the capability, integrity and fidelity of another person. When an incapacitated person is under a guardian/conservatorship, the ward/protectee cannot drive, marry, decide where to live, decide his/her medical care, vote or enter into a legal contract. It is in everyone’s best interest, however, to consult with the ward/protectee whenever possible, to have their voice heard in the decision making process.

Special thanks to Carolyn Vienhage, retired Public Administrator for Green County, for her contribution of information.

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