Guardianship & Conservatorship Put An Experienced Advocate On Your Side
Greenwood Law Is Here for You Greenwood Law is committed to listening to you, answering your questions, and helping you navigate the legal system.

Understanding the Difference Between Guardianships and Conservatorships

The terminology surrounding guardianships and conservatorships can sometimes get confusing, especially as the precise language can sometimes differ from state to state. The person who is the subject of the guardianship or conservatorship – a minor child or an incapacitated adult – is either known as the “protected person” or “the ward.”

A guardian is in charge of the protected person’s well-being. This means they oversee personal affairs, including where the protected person lives, their access to necessities, and the medical care they receive.

A conservator manages the protected person’s financial affairsThey will take legal possession of the protected person’s assets and must keep records of how they handle them. A conservatorship is also sometimes called a “guardianship of the estate.” 

A protected person may not necessarily need both a guardianship and a conservatorship. They may only need one or the other. If they do require both, the guardian and the conservator do not necessarily need to be the same person.

When Does Someone Need a Guardianship or Conservatorship?

You may be wondering if seeking a guardianship or conservatorship is necessary, especially if your loved one seems capable of making some decisions on their own. The court will heavily scrutinize requests for a guardianship or conservatorship, so it is important to understand when these arrangements become necessary under the law.

A minor child needs a guardianship or conservatorship if:

  • Both of their parents are deceased, or
  • Both parents cannot be found, or
  • Both of their parents are unfit

In other words, a minor child always needs at least one “fit” parent. A parent may be considered unfit if they are abusive or unable to adequately care for the child. In situations where both parents pass away, they may request a guardian to care for their child in their will. Illinois and Iowa courts tend to honor these requests.

An adult may need a guardianship or conservatorship if:

  • They become disabled due to an injury or illness
  • They develop a severe substance abuse problem that prevents them from caring for themselves
  • They experience significant mental decline as they grow older
  • They no longer wish to make their own decisions

You should get legal advice before attempting to establish a guardianship or conservatorship. These arrangements are not always preferable, and alternatives may be available. Our Rock Island guardianship and conservatorship attorney can evaluate your situation and provide tailored guidance.

Establishing a Guardianship or Conservatorship

To initiate the guardianship or conservatorship process, an interested party – such as a family member – must petition the court. The petition will need to include information about the prospective protected person and what about their condition warrants a guardianship or conservatorship.

Upon receiving the petition, the court will schedule a hearing and often assign a “guardian ad litem,” who is responsible for representing the interests of the prospective protected person. The guardian ad litem will interview the protected person and investigate the case in advance of the hearing. The hearing will be handled like a trial, with testimony and evidence offered to the court. The judge will ultimately decide whether to grant the guardianship or conservatorship. Our team at Greenwood Law understands how to strategically approach these proceedings and will work diligently to secure a favorable outcome.

If appointed, a conservator must meet strict reporting requirements. This will include a thorough accounting of the protected person’s assets as well as annual filings. Depending on the state, a conservator may need court permission before they can sell property, pay expenses, or file the protected person’s taxes. Our Rock Island guardianship and conservatorship lawyer can assist you with meeting your state’s specific requirements.

Having trouble deciding whether to pursue a guardianship or conservatorship in Illinois or Iowa? Call (309) 790-7003 or contact us online to discuss your options with us.

Gold Star Fee Policy James D. Greenwood, founder of Greenwood Law, LLC, is a US Navy Veteran. His family has borne the costs of the wars of the United States and its Allies for generations. As such, Mr. Greenwood has specialized guidelines when providing legal services for Gold Star Family.
Greenwood Law Greenwood Law

Any Questions?
Contact Us Today

We'll gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience.
  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.
  • By submitting, you agree to be contacted about your request & other information using automated technology. Message frequency varies. Msg & data rates may apply. Text STOP to cancel. Acceptable Use Policy
Want to Learn More?