Guardianships and Conservatorships

What is a Guardianship or Conservatorship? Does your elderly parent need a Guardianship or Conservatorship? Does your child need these court documents? What is the legal process like in these cases?

What is a Guardianship?

A guardianship involves a court process to appoint a person to help a disabled person with their day-to-day activities. With adults, this is common with mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, dementia, and Alzheimer’s. With children this is necessary when a disabled child is soon turning 18 years old. Before this time, the parents are usually the default guardians but after the child is 18, a legal guardianship is necessary.

Often power of attorney documents are rejected in these circumstances. However, the person named in the power of attorney document has statutory priority to be a guardian.

Guardians often help with decisions such as where the disabled person will live, where they will go to school, attending physician appointments, and helping generally with day-to-day activities. A guardian does not handle financial decisions and management of financial assets – That is a conservator.

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What is a Conservatorship?

A conservator manages a disabled person’s finances. With minor children this is often a personal injury award from a medical malpractice lawsuit, insurance proceeds from a car accident, or inheritance from a relative.

With disabled adults this involves managing benefits, real estate, savings, and paying bills.

Does your elderly parent need a Guardianship or Conservatorship?

Rossi Law meets with many clients who are worried about their father, mother, or grandparent. One common question is “When should we file for a guardianship or conservatorship?”

Questions a guardianship attorney may ask are: (1) Are you worried about your parent managing their own finances? (2) Are you worried someone is going to take advantage of your parent? (3) Are you worried your parent can’t manage their own health, prescriptions, or diet? (4) Is your parent no longer able to provide for their own safety? If the answers to any of the questions is yes, you should consult with a guardianship attorney.

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What is the legal process like in these cases?

The court process for guardianships or conservatorships in Colorado is easier than in most states.

  1. Several documents are filed with the court.
  2. The judge often appoints a professional to interview the people involved in the disabled person’s life.
  3. A very short court hearing takes place.
  4. The judge grants the appointment of the guardian or conservator and a yearly report needs to be filed.

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This is not a complicated process, but it can be delayed by many months if the right documents are not filed in a timely manner.

Sometimes there are multiple people fighting over who will be the guardian or conservator. In these circumstances, hiring a guardianship attorney in Colorado Springs that often handles these cases, like Rossi Law, is a good first step.