Guardianship and Conservatorship

A non-incapacitated person may appoint another individual to be their decision-maker for health and financial decisions before they become incapacitated. In the event that a person becomes incapacitated, such as if they were involved in a serious automobile accident, and they had not appointed another person to be their decision maker, then in all likelihood, their only option to have a decision maker appointed would be to petition the Court to appoint a Guardian and/or Conservator.

Of note is that, in Michigan, the spouse of an incapacitated individual is not automatically given decision-making abilities over their spouse. If their now incapacitated spouse never appointed their spouse as their decision maker, then the spouse would have to petition the court to be the Guardian or Conservator.

Lack of capacity can be the result of physical or mental illness, cognitive decline due to aging, drug or alcohol addiction, or from a developmental disability.

Under a Conservatorship, the appointed Conservator is given the authorization to make any financial decisions for the incapacitated individual, such as paying their bills and monitor how the incapacitated individual is spending their money. Under a Guardianship, the appointed Guardian is given the authority to make the medical decisions of the incapacitated person. In addition, the Guardian also handles the day-to-day decision-making abilities for the incapacitated individual.

Deciding whether or not to pursue a court ruling that restricts an individual’s ability to choose for themselves is not an easy choice to make. Occasionally, clients are forced to choose between respecting the dignity of the individual against protecting the individual from themselves or others. Our staff is trained to explain the implications of these decisions.

In pursuing a Guardianship or Conservatorship, our staff is skilled in both uncontested and contested matters. Furthermore, we have also represented clients who are seeking a Guardianship/Conservatorship and clients who are contesting the appointment of a Guardian or Conservator.

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