Guardianship Laws in Georgia and conservatorships laws enable a person to be there in a decision-making capacity for individuals who have become incapacitated through illness or injury and are not of legal adult age (18). Petitioning for a Georgia guardian and/or conservator is a complex process, so it’s important to work with a savvy probate lawyer.
1. What is a Guardian?
Guardians are responsible for the day-to-day decisions of their ward. This can include ensuring their loved one has a place to live, adequate food and healthcare. They can also take care of legal decisions for their ward, including participating in court cases and signing contracts like marriage licenses.
A person who is a guardian of a minor or an incapacitated adult must file a Petition for Appointment of Guardian with their county Probate court. They must prove that the individual lacks the capacity to make significant decisions for their own safety and welfare.
A judge will appoint someone to investigate the circumstances and write a report for the court. They will hold a hearing and you will have the opportunity to explain why you should be named as the guardian. The judge will then make a decision. If the judge decides to appoint you as a guardian, the court will set up a visitation schedule with the child’s parents and any other family members.
2. What is a Conservator?
A conservator is a person who is legally appointed during a court proceeding. Their responsibilities are to take care of financial and personal (daily life) matters for an incapacitated individual.
A judge will determine who should be a conservator and in what capacity. This will typically depend on the reason for the incapacity – it can be due to physical or mental reasons, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Conservators must report to the court on an ongoing basis and may be required to post bond. The bond will protect the ward in case a conservator mishandles funds, steals assets or otherwise abuses their position.
The conservator must make decisions on behalf of the ward in a way that they believe the individual would have made the decision had they been able to do so. This means considering their lifestyle, beliefs and values. The conservator must also keep careful records and accounts of all receipts, expenses, gains and losses.
3. What is a Guardian’s Responsibilities?
Generally speaking, a guardian looks after the well-being of an incapacitated person or minor while a conservator handles financial affairs. If a minor child inherits assets of $15,000 or more, Georgia law requires that they have a conservator to manage those funds.
A guardian’s duties and powers may be limited or revoked by the court. A conservator is required by law to file annual reports with the court and maintain full, accurate and complete records of all income, expenditures, returns/accounting, statements, vouchers, checks and other documents.
A great deal of the issues that arise when a loved one becomes incapacitated could be eliminated by having a comprehensive GA estate planning lawyer like Stan Faulkner plan ahead while they are still of sound mind. Contact us today and schedule an appointment with our experienced probate attorney. We will happily guide you through this process. We can explain what to expect and help you decide what is best for your family member’s situation.
4. What is a Conservator’s Liability?
A conservator is the legal representative of a person who lacks the capacity to make significant, responsible decisions regarding their health and safety. A conservator’s responsibilities are limited to managing the incapacitated individual’s financial affairs, paying bills, and being in charge of their property. A conservator may also apply for private or governmental benefits that the protected person is entitled to.
Generally, the court will choose a family member as both guardian and conservator. However, a professional conservator can be appointed if there is no suitable family or friend available.
A lot of the difficulties involved in obtaining legal GA guardianships and conservatorships could be avoided if adults detail their wishes while they are healthy. This can be done through thoughtful estate planning with an experienced attorney in Marietta GA. Contact us to discuss your case and see how we can help you plan ahead. The sooner you start, the better! Our firm offers a free consultation.