A conservator is a guardian and protector appointed by a judge to protect and manage the financial affairs and/or the person's daily life due to physical or mental limitations or old age. The conservator may be only of the "estate" (meaning financial affairs), but may be also of the "person," when he/she takes charge of overseeing the daily activities, such as health care or living arrangements of the conservatee. The process is that a relative or friend petitions the local superior court for appointment of a specific conservator, with written notice served on the potential conservatee. The object of this concern is interviewed by a court-appointed investigator to determine need, desire and understanding of the potential conservatee as well as the suitability of the proposed conservator. An open hearing is held before the appointment is made. The conservator is required to make regular accountings which must be approved by the court. The conservator may be removed by order of the court if no longer needed, upon the petition of the conservatee or relatives, or for failure to perform his/her duties.
A guardian is a person who has been appointed by a judge to take care of a minor child (called a "ward") or incompetent adult personally and/or manage that person's affairs. To become a guardian either the party intending to be the guardian or another family member, a close friend or a local official responsible for the child's welfare will petition the court to appoint the guardian. In the case of a minor, the guardianship remains under court supervision until the child reaches 18. Naming someone in a will as guardian of one's child in case of the death of the parent is merely a nomination. The judge does not have to honor that request, although he/she usually does. Sadly enough, often a parent must petition to become the guardian of his/her child's "estate" if the child inherits or receives a gift of substantial assets, including the situation in which a parent gives his/her own child an interest in real property or stocks. Therefore, that type of gift should be avoided, and a trust created instead. While the term "guardian" also may refer to someone who is appointed to care of and/or handle the affairs of a person who is incompetent or incapable of administering his/her affairs, this is more often called a "conservator" under a conservatorship.
Forms for Guardians / Conservators
Petition for Appointment of a Conservator/Guardian
This Form should be used if you feel a person needs a Conservator or Guardian. The Filing Fee for this document is $110.00, there is also a charge of $20.00 certified fee for each immediate family member to be served. Also, there is a $25.00 fee for the alleged protected person to be served by the Sheriff. The cost to get this packet is $2.00.
Accounting of a Conservator
This form is to be used initially and annually for an accounting of all finances of the protected person. There is no Filing Fee for this Document.
This Form should be used if you feel the other party is not abiding by or adhering to an existing Court Order. There is no Filing Fee for this document. The cost to get this document in office is $1.00.
Petition for Modification
This form should be used if you wish for the court to consider changing part or all of an existing court order. The filing fee for this document is $85.00, Service by Certified mail is $20.00, giving a grand total of $105.00 for this filing. The cost to get this document in office is $1.00.
Petition for Expedited Modification of Child Support
This form may only be used when a job has been lost and your income is now $0.00. The filing fee for this document is $35.00.