Guardianship & Conservatorship in Family Law
The terms “guardian” and “conservator,” along with “guardianship” and “conservatorship,” are used differently in different states, and in some cases, are used to refer to the same thing. However they are defined, both refer to persons or entities named to make decisions for someone who is a minor or an adult who is or has become incapacitated.
In Kansas, a guardian is someone who makes personal decisions for another who is incapable of doing so, while a conservator is empowered to make financial decisions. The same person can be appointed to both roles, or different individuals can fill the roles. Both roles are appointed by a court when an individual is incapable of making sound decisions or acting in their own self-interest because of their minority or due to a physical or mental condition.
If you have a loved one who needs the care of a guardian or conservator, or both, contact Jeffers Law Office. Attorney Mark Jeffers can help you navigate the process of establishing a guardianship or conservatorship that makes sense for your family and your loved one’s needs. Jeffers Law Office proudly serves clients in and around Overland Park, Olathe, Lenexa, Shawnee, Leawood, Prairie Village, and throughout Johnson County.
What Is a Guardian?
As briefly described above, a guardian is a person, persons, or corporation assigned to make decisions for someone who is a minor or is an adult who is unable to do so regarding the issues of living conditions, health, and welfare.
A guardian can be assigned a temporary or permanent role. Since it takes a court a month or more to appoint a permanent guardian, a temporary guardian may be appointed to see to the needs of the ward (the person being cared for) until the full process is complete.
At other times, a standby guardian may be appointed in case anything happens to the established guardian. In some arrangements, there may also be co-guardians.
A guardian is subject to the control and direction of the court at all times and must make a yearly report to the court about what actions they have taken and the condition of the ward. A guardian must also:
- Assure that the ward lives in the least restrictive setting that meets the ward’s needs.
- Assure that the ward receives all necessary and reasonably available medical care or services to preserve the ward’s health. This also includes assisting the ward to develop or retain skills and abilities.
What Is a Conservator?
A conservator is a person, persons, or corporation assigned by a court to make financial decisions and protect the property of the conservatee (the person being cared for). A conservator is also under the direction and control of the court. Again, temporary conservatorships can be established while the court process plays out, and there can be co-conservators and standby conservators.
The first task of the conservator is to inventory the conservatee’s assets and file it with the court. The conservator also needs to file an annual financial accounting with the court.
Among other tasks facing the conservator by law are:
- To pay reasonable charges for the support, care, clothing, housing, and education of the conservatee in a reasonable manner, unless the conservatee’s parent or spouse is required by law to pay those charges
- To pay all lawful debts of the conservatee
- To control and manage all the conservatee’s property, collect debts, and assert claims in favor of the conservatee (for example, if the conservatee is owed money)
- To insure property against theft or other loss in a reasonable amount
Guardianship & Conservatorship Attorney in Overland Park, Kansas
Kansas law views guardianships and conservatorships as a last resort after other measures have been attempted. When the courts do grant a guardianship or conservatorship relationship, they specify that it should be the least restrictive possible, with the hopes that the arrangement can be temporary.
If you find yourself in the position of needing a guardian or conservator to be appointed to care for a loved one, contact Jeffers Law Office. We serve clients throughout Johnson County, Kansas, including Overland Park, Olathe, Lenexa, Shawnee, Leawood, and Prairie Village. Your initial telephone consultation is free.