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Guardianships and conservatorships, what's the difference?

Sometimes, people need assistance making decisions or managing their property because they are incapable of doing so under the law. In Massachusetts, guardianships and conservatorships allow for personal representatives to be named for these people. What is the difference between the two?

The role of a guardian is to ensure his or her ward's needs are met and the ward's financial responsibilities are being appropriately handled. A person in this role may also have the ability to make certain medical decisions for his or her ward. The role of a conservator is much the same as a guardian. The main difference between the two comes down to how much money/assets the ward possesses. A conservatorship would be granted if the ward has significant assets that need handling.

Whether assigned as a guardian or a conservator, an individual in this role does not have unlimited power. He or she is only allowed to do so much under the law without seeking court approval. Anyone who would like a full list of the rights and responsibilities of a guardian or conservator may be able to obtain this information by contacting legal counsel or the state.

Guardianships and conservatorships serve a valuable purpose. Being awarded either of these roles in Massachusetts can be a bit complicated, however. Those who believe they have loved ones in need of a guardian or conservator can turn to an experienced attorney for assistance figuring out if moving forward with such a request is appropriate. If it is, legal counsel can provide further help filing the petition and representing one's position on the matter in court.

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