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Roles of conservators and guardians in Colorado

There are situations when a person in Colorado may need to become a guardian or conservator for someone else. While many people do apply for one of these roles in order to take care of a child, an adult may need help when unable to manage affairs or properly absorb and consider information.

A conservator is someone appointed by a court to manage a minor or adult's estate. This may be necessary when one cannot evaluate information or make decisions and could occur when one would put his or her affairs at risk or when assets would be otherwise wasted without intervention. A conservatorship might also be opened so that one can oversee a minor's finances to provide for his or her needs concerning health, education and support. A conservator must be 21 years of age or older if an individual.

While conservatorships provide protection for estates, a guardian is responsible for taking care of a person. The power to care for a person is given by law, and one could be the guardian of an adult when the person is incapacitated. This may mean the person cannot appropriately communicate or make decisions to the point where his or her safety and health is in question. The person also might lack the ability to take care of oneself even with technological assistance.

When a sudden illness or accident incapacitates an older individual, his or her family may be left struggling and unsure of how to make important decisions. Giving a trusted person the power of attorney and the right to make medical decisions can ensure that one's wishes are met in important situations, and a conservatorship also allows a party to efficiently handle one's estate. Thinking ahead when making decisions about estate planning can help a family.

Source: Colorado Judicial Branch, "Guardianship / Conservatorship", October 29, 2014

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