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What is the difference between a guardian and a conservator?

There are all kinds of important decisions we make in our everyday lives. Sometimes, circumstances will make it so a person no longer has the ability to make these decisions. When this occurs, a court may decide to appoint an individual to make decisions for the person, such as a guardian or a conservator.

Both guardians and conservators are individuals given certain decision-making authority for a person by a court. The main difference between a guardian and a conservator is the types of decisions they are given the authority to make. 

Guardians are given control over the personal decisions for an individual. Things that can fall into this realm include medical treatment decisions.

Conservators, on the other hand, are given control over a person's finances. Thus, rather than regarding personal matters, the decision-making authority of conservators regards financial matters.

Here in Massachusetts, for both guardians and conservators, the extent of the decision-making authority they have in their given realm depends on whether the guardianship/conservatorship set up is full or limited.

Other ways guardians and conservators differ are in what specific factors are to be present for them to be put in place and in what specific duties they have under state law.

When a person is worried about the decision-making capacity of a loved one, they should consider speaking to an experienced guardianship and conservatorship attorney. Such attorneys can give such individuals guidance on whether they should consider seeking a guardianship or conservatorship for their loved one and provide them with information on the guardian/conservator appointment process and what things it is important to keep in mind during this process.

Source: mass.gov, "GENERAL INFORMATION REGARDING GUARDIANSHIPS AND CONSERVATORSHIPS," Accessed Feb. 5, 2016

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