Some people mistakenly use the words guardianship and conservatorship interchangeably, as if they are exactly the same thing. The reason for this mistake is simple: These two types of legal situations do address a similar circumstance where an elderly person needs assistance in their life. They’re just very different in terms of focus.
If you’re considering setting one of these up for an elderly loved one, or if you are an elderly person thinking about your own future planning, it is important to know the difference.
The role of a guardian
Generally speaking, a guardianship is set up when someone just needs help with their daily tasks and things of this nature. Maybe they can’t cook or clean; maybe they need help going to the store or just taking care of the house. They need someone to assist them with the daily challenges of living, and the guardian is there for them much in the way that a parent would be there for a young child. They assist the elderly person in every way that they can.
The role of a conservator
A conservatorship, on the other hand, is more focused on financial and legal steps that need to be taken. For instance, this person may be in charge of paying property taxes or accessing bank accounts. They’re doing a lot more technical jobs, not just helping with daily tasks. This person could be the same as the guardian, or two different people could work together to make sure that everything is covered properly.
Not only is it important to know what is different between these two roles, but you also need to know how to get everything set up if you find yourself in this position.