What are the differences between a guardian and a conservator?

There are different situations in people’s lives in California that put them in a position where they cannot care for themselves properly. This could be when they are young and not ready or capable of providing for themselves.

Children rely on their parents to provide a home, food, clothing and other life necessities. However, there are unfortunately times when parents can no longer provide for these needs. It can also occur when people are older and due to physical or cognitive disabilities cannot provide for their own needs.

In situations where either a child is left without a parent capable of caring for them or adults who are not able to care for themselves, others may need to step in and care for them. People who provide this care need the legal authority to do so as typically parents have authority for their children and adults have their own authority.

Differences between guardianships and conservatorships

The authority given to the people caring for others comes from the courts who can appoint guardianships or conservatorships, depending on the circumstances. There are many similarities between the two, but the difference is that guardianships are for people caring for children and conservatorships are for people caring for adults.

Both have two different types of authority. One is over the person, meaning that the person makes decisions regarding day-to-day matters and other types of decisions regarding their personal well-being. The other type is authority over their estate, which gives people the authority to make financial decisions and pay various expenses.

There are family members and friends in California who may want to step in and help when a loved one is unable to care for themselves or when parents of young children pass away. While they may be able to help, they have no legal authority to make any decisions until they are appointed as guardians or conservators.

Like any court proceeding, there is a process that people need to follow to be appointed and consulting with experienced attorneys may be helpful.