Last week we were discussing when it is appropriate for a parent to apply for guardianship of a child who turns 18. But, what if guardianship isn’t suitable? There is another option, called conservatorship.
Conservatorship is sort of a middle ground between a guardianship and power of attorney. There is no determination of incapacity like there is in a guardianship proceeding. I must be appointed as conservator by a judge but it cannot happen without my son’s consent.
This does give a measure of protection beyond a power of attorney since my son cannot simply revoke the conservatorship on his own. He must go back to court and ask a judge to dissolve it. If I am concerned that he will be preyed upon by scam artists and others who might try to take advantage of him, the conservatorship will allow me to step in and protect him.
Unlike guardianship, I cannot be appointed conservator to make medical decisions, only financial ones. In the scenario where my son wants to undergo a medical procedure that I consider inadvisable, a conservatorship will not allow me any input.
So, there you have it – power of attorney/health care directive, guardianship and conservatorship. There isn’t always a perfect fit and sometimes the right choice isn’t immediately identifiable but parents should be aware that as their child approaches age 18, the law does provide some options that allow them to assist the child in making the many decisions that we as adults face in our lives on a daily basis.