Guardianship / Conservatorship Issues
Sometimes, a family will have the responsibility of caring for a child or adult who cannot manage their own affairs. The ideal situation is for the family to establish an Estate plan that includes a Financial and Medical Durable Powers of Attorney in advance of need to handle the loved one in question’s affairs on their behalf.
At times, there is no person(s) legally capable of assisting an individual who is not able to manage their own affairs. In these cases, the Michigan Probate Court will appoint a Guardian or Conservator to assist the individual and manage their affairs.
There are times when this arrangement causes a dispute, or some issue arises regarding the conduct of the Guardian or Conservator. Mall Malisow & Cooney are experienced Probate Attorneys who can work with your family to resolve Guardianship or Conservatorship issues.
Guardians and Conservators
A Guardian is appointed by the Probate Court to have control over the person, known as the Ward. They are responsible for decisions pertaining to his or her personal care and welfare. A Conservator is appointed by the Probate Court to have control over the estate, or property, of the Ward. They are also responsible for the Ward’s financial well-being.
A legal Guardianship or Conservatorship is a fiduciary relationship created between a person determined by the Probate Court to be incapacitated (the Ward) and a person or organization deemed suitable by a court to manage the Ward’s personal care or finances (the Guardian or Conservator). In most states, the Probate Court in the county where the prospective Ward lives is vested with jurisdiction to oversee such proceedings.
When a Guardian or Conservator has been appointed, it means that many significant rights are taken away from the individual they represent. Ideally, this is done to help the individual in question, because they are unable to manage their own affairs. Our Attorneys can help advocate on behalf of an individual to protect their rights. We can take action to:
- Ensure that a Conservator or Guardian is necessary;
- Ensure that a Conservator or Guardian only has powers that are truly needed to help the individual ; and
- Prevent abuse by a Guardian or Conservator
Disputes with a Guardian or Conservator
In certain circumstances, questions or disagreements may arise among family members or interested parties pertaining to how the Guardian or Conservator is handling the Ward’s affairs. This could be a case where the Guardian or Conservator has exceeded their legal authority in some way or acted in self-interest instead of the Ward’s best interests.
Guardians and Conservators must submit a yearly report to the Probate Court detailing their service to and care of the Ward in question. They are also subject to removal Petitions, where someone asks the court to replace them or terminate the Guardianship/Conservatorship altogether. These can be filed by anyone interested in the Ward’s welfare. The court can also act to remove them if it deems necessary.
This is when an experienced Probate Attorney with extensive knowledge of the Guardian and Conservator laws can provide the best assistance. Before taking any action, always seek the advice of a Probate Attorney.
Becoming a Guardian or Conservator
If you are concerned about an adult or child who will need a representative, or if you want to offer to serve as a Guardian or Conservator for a relative or friend, it is important that you fully understand the responsibilities involved. Contact Mall Malisow & Cooney, P.C. if you would like to arrange a consultation with one of our firm’s Attorneys.
Our Attorneys and staff will work with you to explore all the resources available to provide for the best possible quality of life and quality of care for your family member or friend.