Important Guardianship Terms
If an individual is unable to evaluate information, communicate decisions, and cannot satisfy safety, health, or self-care requirements even with technological assistance, that person will be considered incapacitated under Colorado state laws.
A court proceeding in which someone is seeking the appointment of a guardian or a conservator is called a “protective proceeding.”
A person needing protection is the “respondent” until a guardian or conservator is appointed. After the court appoints a guardian for an individual, that individual is referred to as a “ward.”
A guardian is a person appointed by the court to make nonmonetary decisions for someone who is not able to make decisions on their own. Examples of nonmonetary decisions include:
- Living arrangements
- Medical treatment
- Assistance moving forward
Also, guardians may handle small amounts of money for their wards. However, a court will appoint a conservator for amounts over a specific threshold.
Guardians have certain legal rights and powers. But, there are limitations. For example, guardians should try to get input from the ward whenever possible. On the other hand, guardians must not consent to involuntary commitment, care, and treatment of a ward for mental illness or for alcoholism or substance abuse.
How Does Guardianship Work?
If someone wants to be appointed as a legal guardian of a loved one, they will have to file a petition in state court for a protective proceeding. The same person may not be both guardian and conservator unless the court decides so. Bear in mind that the respondent also has the right to have an attorney present who can make sure their interests are protected.
The court’s first choice when appointing a guardian or conservator is a close family member. In the case of an incapacitated adult, that can be a parent or a spouse. In the case of a minor child, a guardian is looked for among other family members such as grandparents, aunts, or uncles.
Other relatives or close friends are considered if no family member is available. The court will appoint a specially trained attorney if no one is available.
Colorado laws allow several types of guardianships:
- Emergency – for up to 60 days;
- Temporary – for up to six months;
- Permanent guardianship.
Is There a Difference Between Guardianship and Conservatorship?
Although the same person can sometimes act as a guardian and conservator, conservators have different duties. A conservator is responsible for the following:
- Managing an incapacitated person’s assets and financial affairs;
- Paying bills and depositing checks;
- Participating in the operation of any incapacitated person’s business.
Also, it’s important to note that a conservator is appointed only if the incapacitated person has more income and assets than required for meeting their daily needs.
Have More Questions About Legal Guardianship? Contact Duncan Legal
Duncan Legal, of Centennial, Colorado, encourages everyone to think ahead to the future and plan their estate. When you take the time to establish even the most basic components of an estate plan, you will provide your loved ones with a clear-cut outline of your wishes.As an experienced estate planning attorney, I strongly believe in planning for the future. Take the first step today by contacting my Centennial, Colorado, office.