When a minor or an adult is unable to care for themselves or for their estate, the court sometimes appoints a guardian or a conservator to help. Unfortunately, the court’s selection is not always the best selection. Read on to discover why you should include information about guardianship and conservatorship in your estate planning documents when you work with Salt Lake City attorney Penniann J. Schumann.

A Complete Estate Plan Includes Plans for Incapacity

Estate plans are all about the future. They’re about making sure the people and the things you love are taken care of. In an estate plan, you are able to appoint a guardian for your minor or disabled children in the event that you are no longer able to care for them. You can also decide what you want to happen should you suddenly become incapacitated. Who would make decisions for you? Who would take care of your finances? Who would take care of you? Plan for these things now, and you won’t run the risk of the court appointing someone you don’t like to take care of you and your affairs.

The Difference Between A Guardian And A Conservator

You may be wondering exactly what conservators and guardians are. Conservatorship and guardianship are related ideas, and in other states the words may be used interchangeably, but they have two distinct meanings under Utah State law.

A guardian makes decisions about how to care for another person’s well being. That person is called the “ward.” Under the law, they are responsible for their ward the way a parent is responsible for a minor child. That means they must see to the ward’s daily living needs. A guardian can be a person or an institution and is appointed by a court. The court decides to appoint someone as guardian when the ward cannot take care of themselves (i.e., they are unable to eat, dress, or bathe alone) because of age, disability, or physical or mental illness.

Sometimes a guardian is given “limited guardianship” when the ward can take care of themselves partially but not completely.

A conservator takes care of a ward’s estate, their finances and property. This is also a big responsibility, and the conservator must be prudent with their ward’s estate. Like a guardian, a conservator can also be a person or an institution and is also appointed by the court. The court may appoint a conservator because the ward is a minor, and is therefore too young to properly manage their estate, or because the ward is not mentally competent to do so.

It’s not uncommon for one person or institution to occupy both roles. In that case, the conservator/guardian takes care of the ward’s daily living needs as well as their financial affairs.

Contact the Salt Lake City Law Office of Penniann J. Schumann

Estate planning is something every adult should do regardless of financial situation or family status. Because it’s such an important – and personal – thing, choosing the right attorney to work with is vital. Ms. Schumann has over 20 years’ experience in the area of estate planning. She has worked with many people not simply to create documents, but to plan out the future together. By creating strong legal documents like wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and more, Ms. Schumann gives her clients peace of mind. They know that if the unexpected happens, their families and their estates are taken care of.

If you feel it’s time to create a new estate plan or update an old one, contact Penniann J. Schumann at her Salt Lake City, UT office today at 801-631-7811.

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