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How does guardianship and conservatorship work in Michigan?

On Behalf of | Feb 15, 2023 | Estate Planning And Elder Law

One of the most difficult things a family can experience is watching a loved one grow older and reach a point where he or she is unable to function without support. As you watch your loved one struggle to meet his or her own needs and make sound decisions, you may wonder what options are available to your family. It may be apparent that your loved one needs long-term care and support for his or her own safety and long-term well-being. 

Caring for an aging parent or family member is a legally and financially complex undertaking. It is in the interests of that individual for you or someone else to manage his or her finances and make important decisions. The right and ability to do this is something you may be able to attain by seeking guardianship or conservatorship. 

What is the difference? 

A guardianship and conservatorship are two options that you have for caring for your loved one. These are two legal provisions, granted by a Michigan court, that will allow you to support and care for someone who may be physically or mentally unable to make important decisions, manage finances and understand health care needs. The differences between a guardianship and conservatorship include: 

  • Guardianship — A guardian is someone who has responsibility over someone’s health and overall well-being. If you have guardianship, you can make medical decisions, get medication and seek treatment on behalf of the ward. 
  • Conservatorship — A conservator is responsible for the ward’s finances, including bills, sale of property, financial management and more. A guardian can manage income, pensions, Social Security benefits and more on behalf of the ward without a conservatorship. 

In some cases, a guardianship may be sufficient for the specific situation. However, you may benefit from a careful look at your situation to determine if you will need to petition the court for a guardianship and a conservatorship. 

The best interests of your loved one 

One of the intentions of seeking a guardianship is to protect the best interests of someone who is no longer able to do this for himself or herself. Your family may benefit from an explanation of legal options from a professional who understands elder law and knows how to navigate the Michigan court system. With a guardianship and/or conservatorship, every member of your family can have peace of mind knowing that your loved one’s interests are secure.