What is the difference between guardianship and conservatorship?

Many people use the terms guardianship and conservatorship interchangeably, but they have slightly different meanings in Delaware. If you need to take over an adult’s affairs, then knowing the difference can help you understand what you need to petition the court to give you.

Guardianship

Suppose the Court of Chancery grants you guardianship over an individual. In that case, you are responsible for seeing that they have enough food to eat, a safe place to live, receive health care and take care of anything else that person may need to exist.

Are there limits on a guardian’s powers?

Yes, there are limits on a guardian’s powers. They cannot use a person’s funds to buy or sell real estate without the court’s consent. The court must approve any withdrawal of funds over a set monthly allotment. No one can receive funds from the disabled adult or let another person borrow funds from the disabled adult without the court’s approval. The guardian must file a yearly report with the Court of Chancery.

Conservatorship

The court appoints a conservator in the state of Delaware to oversee the affairs of an individual with disabilities, including their financial affairs. Like a guardian, the conservator must file annual reports with the applicable court. While a guardian’s responsibilities end at the time of death, a conservator often must deal with assets and debts after the person dies. Meeting with an experienced adult guardianship attorney and describing your particular situation and that of your potential ward might help you decide if this is the right move for you.