Navigating the Challenges of Guardianship/Conservatorship For A Loved One

Estate Planning, Probate and Insurance Attorney

Charles Garman
Attorney | Vandenack Weaver 


Nobody wants to use this word, along with “incompetent,” for a loved one. It may feel disrespectful or insulting. However, these words carry a specific legal meaning and specific legal reality: a person no longer has the mental ability to understand decisions that need to be made and thus is unable to make them.

Incapacity or incompetence is a legal finding based on facts usually obtained from medical professionals. In laymen’s terms, a doctor will tell you that your loved one cannot make decisions anymore and a court will rule that this person no longer has the legal ability to make decisions. But these findings all start with the realization that your loved one is confused and unable to understand the world anymore.

Nobody wants to have this discussion with a loved one, be it a parent whom you have relied on your whole life, or a spouse with whom you have grown old – but it serves them no benefit to delay. This is the time to protect them and for this you need the court’s approval. You will need to ask the court to be appointed a Guardian, who makes decisions over a person, a Conservator, who makes decisions over property, or both.

Taking another person’s agency – the ability to make decisions – is not something the courts take lightly, and the legal procedure reflects this. In addition to the initial pleadings, the law requires documents, background checks and evidence to be submitted to the courts. Even after appointment, there are follow up documents that need to be produced and signed and reports that need to be created. This complex process is best coordinated by lawyers who understand it. The Vandenack Weaver Team is ready and qualified to assist you through this process.

In addition to legal assistance, the Vandenack Weaver Team is able to work together with you to have these initial conversations, guide you through the process, advise how to simplify annual reporting, and assist in finding the care most suitable for your loved one. Further, should governmental assistance need to be pursued or asset protection be appropriate, we will hold these conversations when appropriate.

Caring for loved ones experiencing medical incapacity is a difficult time. The Vandenack Weaver Team will stand with you as you navigate the conservatorship and guardianship process.