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Duties and Responsibilities of a Guardian or Conservator

Taking Care of the Ward

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After a person has been determined to be mentally incapacitated and becomes a "ward" of the court, or if a minor is in need of a guardianship or conservatorship to manage their property, the guardian or conservator appointed by the court will have numerous duties and responsibilities with regard to taking care of all of the ward's needs. Depending upon the laws of the state where the ward lives, some of these duties and responsibilities will require court approval, while others will not.

Investing the Ward's Liquid Assets

The court appointed guardian or conservator will be responsible for deciding where the ward's liquid assets will be held and who will be responsible for overseeing their investment, such as the guardian him or herself or a professional financial advisor.

Determining the Status of Real Estate and Tangible Personal Property

The court appointed guardian or conservator will need to determine whether real estate and tangible personal property should be bought, held, or sold. This could include deciding to sell the ward's car in order to purchase a properly equipped van or other vehicle, or selling the ward's primary residence or rental properties in order to raise the cash necessary to pay for the ward's care.

Paying the Ward's Bills and Filing Income Tax Returns

The court appointed guardian or conservator will need to pay all of the ward's bills, including medical and personal bills, and preparing and filing all income tax returns and paying the taxes.

Deciding Where the Ward Will Live and Arranging for the Appropriate Care

The court appointed guardian or conservator will need to decide where the ward should live, such as at home, in an assisted living facility, or in a full care facility, and then who will be responsible for taking care of the ward's personal and medical needs.

Asking for Court Approval When Required

Depending upon the laws of the state where the guardianship or conservatorship has been established, the court appointed guardian or conservator will be required to obtain court approval to carry out many of their duties and responsibilities. For instance, in Florida, the guardian or conservator will need to obtain court approval in order to sell any of the ward's real estate or personal property.

Filing Annual Accountings and Plans for the Ward's Care

Each and every year the court appointed guardian or conservator will be responsible for preparing and filing with the court the following: a detailed accounting of how the ward's assets have been bought, sold, invested, and spent on behalf of the ward during the previous year; if the ward is mentally incapacitated, a doctor's report detailing the ward's current mental and physical conditions and whether a guardianship is still required; and a plan detailing the medical treatment and personal care received by the incapacitated ward in the previous year and an outline of the plan for the ward's medical and personal care for the next year.

For Minor Wards, Terminating the Guardianship at the Appropriate Age

If the ward is a minor, then depending upon state law, when the minor reaches the age of 18 or 21, the court-appointed guardian or conservator must file a final accounting of the minor's assets, terminate the guardianship or conservatorship, and distribute the remaining assets outright to the ward.

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