Conservatorship/Adult Guardianship


Conservatorship is a legal process whereby a court appoints a person or organization to care for another adult who is deemed partially or entirely unable to manage their finances, assets, and health due to old age or physical or mental limitations. A person under conservatorship in Michigan is classified under legally protected individuals. The appointed person, who is referred to as the conservator, is legally obligated to make decisions and act on behalf of the legally protected individual. Guardianship can take several forms including; guardianship of the person, guardianship of the estate, among others.

Should you become incapacitated due to injury, illness or mental decline, a conservatorship lets you appoint a person to make decisions on your behalf. Estate planning is an invaluable tool that allows people to choose a guardian should they have mental or physical problems that impede their ability to manage their affairs. Some people utilize this tool to name a guardian who would take care of them in case they become incapacitated. Should you become incapacitated and you don’t have the proper planning in place that names a guardian, conservatorship will be established through a probate court proceeding. Adult guardianship entails taking away a person’s rights and freedom; hence the process must be subjected to scrutiny from the probate court. Due to the formalities involved, adult guardianship requires expert legal guidance by a professional guardianship/conservatorship attorney. At Leydorf Law Firm, PLLC, we can provide you with a seasoned attorney through this complicated process. A qualified conservatorship attorney in Michigan will advise you about a range of options based on your needs and situation. At Leydorf Law Firm, PLLC, we’ve handled countless guardianship proceedings in Michigan hence you can trust as to guide you through the process with the utmost professionalism.



Obtaining Adult Guardianship


Adult guardianship is granted when an individual is no longer able to make decisions on their behalf. To obtain adult guardianship, the interested party must prove to the probate court that indeed guardianship is warranted. The first step towards obtaining adult guardianship is filing a petition in a probate court requesting the court to declare the incapacitated individual incompetent. Examples of people who would petition the probate court for guardianship include:

  • An adult child of an aging parent who cannot make competent decisions.
  • A parent of an adult child who is unable to make competent decisions due to disability or drug addiction.

In some cases, people can file petitions for guardianship in secret, and therefore conservatorship can be granted without the knowledge of family and friends. Adult guardianship is commonly associated with disputes among family members whereby each person may claim to be best placed to take on the role. Michigan laws govern the process of obtaining guardianship, so the interested party must prove that the person in question is incapacitated. The courts will only grant guardianship if there’s sufficient evidence to show that the person is so impaired that he or she is incapable of taking proper care of themselves, their property or their dependents. If the court grant guardianship to the interested party or any other person, the incapacitated person is referred to as the guardian’s “ward.”



Who can serve as an adult guardian?


According to Michigan adult guardianship laws, a guardian must be at least 18 years and be of sound mind. Besides, they must be physically and financially capable of caring for the “ward.” The law also requires a guardian to be of good moral character and not have a felony conviction that involved harm or threat to a minor. Michigan courts usually grant guardianship to close family members, but it doesn’t always have to be a relative. Any person interested in serving as a guardian can be allowed to serve provided they prove they’re best suited for the position. If the relatives of an incapacitated person are unwilling or unable to serve as guardians, the court will appoint a professional guardian or public guardian. This decision is always less than ideal because it could lead to financial exploitation and even physical abuse of the incapacitated person. Considering the downsides of a public guardian, it’s essential to name a guardian in your estate planning documents to avoid the court process.



What are the responsibilities of adult guardianship?


When granting guardianship, the court can give the guardian complete control over a person’s life, depending on the extent of incapacity. The court can grant either guardianship of the person or guardianship of the estate.

In guardianship of the person, the guardian is granted the responsibility of making decisions relating to their ward’s medical treatment, residence, and other personal issues. Guardianship in estate allows the guardian to manage the ward’s estate, income, legal actions, insurance claims, and assets.

Some of the responsibilities of a conservator include:

  • Taking charge of the ward’s meals, clothing, personal care, housekeeping, transportation, recreation, and overall well-being.
  • Making decisions on where they reside.
  • Making medical decisions, including paying their medical bills.
  • Making decisions affecting their quality of life.
  • Protecting the adult from financial exploitation by creditors.
  • Ensuring living conditions are in good shape.
  • Providing consent for medical treatments.
  • Deciding how the ward’s assets are invested.
  • Proper management of the ward’s finances.
  • Ensuring income taxes are filed and paid as needed.
  • Making crisis decisions.
  • Keeping records of expenditures and financial transactions and making regular reports of the financial accounts to the court.

A conservator has a legal obligation to make decisions in the ward’s best interest. Most importantly, the guardian must not use the ward?s resources for their personal gain. That means a guardian can be sued by interested parties if there is a reason to believe that they did not act in the ward’s best interests.



Trusted Michigan Guardianship Attorneys


Guardianship is not a light matter that should be handled casually. It’s a matter that involves losing one’s rights and freedom. The best way to protect yourself should you become incapacitated is by using estate planning to name a guardian ahead of time. This will help you avoid the court process and allow you to choose a preferred guardian instead of letting the courts decide for you.

If you need a reliable guardianship attorney, contact Leydorf Law Firm, PLLC today.


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