Hopkinsville Lawyers Guiding You Through the Process of Conservatorships and Guardianships
When circumstances require families to take over responsibility for making decisions on behalf of a loved one who may be incapacitated due to aging or a disability, or when a minor child requires the care of a guardian, there are essential steps that need to be taken to ensure your loved one’s well-being and financial matters are cared for.
In Kentucky, a conservatorship/guardianship is a legal procedure that places a protected individual under the care of a guardian or conservator. It is important to point out that a guardian will have control over the person, while a conservator will have control over the person’s property.
How is a Guardianship Established in Kentucky?
A guardianship is usually assigned to a family member, a close friend of the family, or another person appointed by the court. A guardian will take care of a minor child whose parents died or are deemed unable to care for the child or make decisions in their best interest. An adult who is injured or suffers any physical or mental disability that results in their inability to care for themselves and make decisions can also be placed under the protection of a guardian.
To establish a guardianship for the protection of an individual, you will need to file the appropriate papers with a court and exhibit enough evidence to show why someone must be placed under the protection of a guardian. A six-person jury will analyze your arguments and decide whether there is enough to prove that the individual is not able to make their own decisions and needs a guardian.
A guardian will be responsible for the well-being of the protected person, including decisions about where the person will live, healthcare, education and counseling decisions, and will also be responsible for paying any debts and expenses related to the care of the protected person. In addition, the guardian may be required to show the court that the needs of the protected person are being met under their care. In the case of a minor, the guardianship will end after the child turns 18.
How is a Conservatorship Established in Kentucky?
The procedure for establishing a conservatorship is similar to that of a guardianship, except the court will assign a conservator the responsibility to care for the protected person’s property and financial matters. In many cases, the guardian and conservator are the same person, but the court can appoint a separate conservator in addition to a guardian in some cases.
A conservator will be responsible for the protected person’s assets and financial matters, including paying debts, protecting assets, and managing any income that the person receives. A conservator may not sell or transfer any of the protected person’s assets without court approval and must show the court that the protected individual’s assets are properly managed.
What is Limited Guardianship or Conservatorship?
If a protected person (also called a “ward” by the state) is found to be fully disabled in managing his or her personal affairs and/or financial matters, the court will appoint a full guardian and conservator as the responsible party for the ward; however, in cases where the ward or protected person is deemed only partially disabled and can still manage some of his or her personal needs or financial matters but may need assistance with others, a court can appoint a limited guardian or conservator. The court will decide which rights will be retained by the ward and which rights will be retained by the conservator or guardian to act on behalf of the protected person.
Guardianships and conservatorships are usually permanent unless the disabled adult regains the mental and physical ability to care for him or herself and make decisions, or when a minor reaches legal age. In the case that a guardian or conservator believes that the person no longer needs protection, he or she may file a petition with the court requesting to end the guardianship/conservatorship and showing enough evidence that the protected person can now make their own personal and financial decisions.
Do I Need an Attorney?
Filing for a guardianship or conservatorship is not an easy process and requires extensive documentation and knowledge of laws and regulations. It is highly recommended you hire an attorney to help guide you through the process and help you understand what is required of you in order to be appointed as a guardian or conservator for your loved one.
Crow Estate Planning and Probate, PLC has helped many clients navigate the Kentucky guardianship and conservatorship application process and can help you and your family as well. Contact our Hopkinsville office by calling today for an initial consultation at 270-569-0006. The goal of our firm is to help you and your family.