Feb 2014

An Overview of Guardianships in Missouri

Guardianship Basics

Most people have heard the term “guardianship” but never really think about it until they need one. A spouse gets sick or an elderly parent starts exhibiting signs of dementia. In other cases, new parents worry what will happen to their child if an accident occurs. In any case where someone is unable to look after himself, it is necessary to create a guardianship.

Guardianships vs. Conservatorships: What’s the Difference?

In Missouri, guardianship law allows a person or legal entity (the guardian) to oversee the physical well-being and finances of anyone determined to be incapacitated (the ward). Although many people associate wards with elderly adults, minor children and disabled adults can also be wards. Furthermore, Missouri law uses the term “guardianship” to refer to the care and custody of the person and “conservatorship” to describe management of the ward’s money. Although the same person can – and frequently does – serve in both roles, sometimes it is necessary and preferable to appoint separate people to oversee a ward’s funds and physical well-being. In many cases, attorneys also act as guardians and conservators.

Children

Parents with minor children frequently name guardians and conservators in their wills. In the absence of a will, the court will appoint a guardian and conservator to care for minor children who have lost both parents. Conservatorships are also necessary when a child has inherited money and a natural guardian (parent) is not available.

Older Adults

Guardianships and conservatorships are normally associated with the elderly. When a spouse, parent, or other loved one becomes too ill or mentally unstable to look after himself or herself, someone else must step in to make sure the person is cared for and financially stable. In Missouri, a competent adult can designate his or her own guardian and conservator in a durable power of attorney as long as the durable power of attorney is properly drafted and executed.

Springfield Guardianship Attorney

The process for establishing a guardianship or conservatorship requires detailed planning and careful compliance with state law. It is important to work with an experienced attorney who can address your concerns and ensure your loved one is protected. Contact our office today at 417-841-2775 to learn more.