How to seek guardianship and/or conservatorship over a loved one

Those in the Atlanta Metro area who are concerned about an adult loved one’s mental capacity naturally want to make sure their loved one receives the care they need. This may be the case if they have an adult special needs child, or if they have an elderly parent who suffers from dementia or Alzheimer’s.

In Georgia, if an adult does not have sufficient mental or physical capacity to make or communicate their wishes regarding their health, safety or financial affairs, it may be necessary to pursue guardianship and/or conservatorship over that person. In Georgia, guardians are appointed by the Probate Court to handle an incapacitated person’s health care and daily living care. Conservators are appointed by the Probate Court to manage an incapacitated person’s assets.

What do I need to do to become a guardian and/or conservator?

To become a guardian or conservator, first you must file a Petition for the Appointment of a Guardian and Conservator of an Adult in the county where the incapacitated person (known as the “ward”) resides or is found. After that, the court will serve the proposed ward and assign an attorney to them. An evaluation conducted by a person appointed by the court will be scheduled, as will a hearing. Also, the proposed ward’s nearest adult relatives will be notified about the petition as well as the upcoming hearing.

A criminal background check will be performed on all those nominated to be the ward’s guardian or conservator. Oftentimes a conservator must post bond before assuming that role. Bonds are like an insurance policy in that they protect the ward’s assets in the event that the conservator does not handle them appropriately.

Once a guardian and/or conservator is appointed, they must file a report with the Court each year. The Court will review the report to make sure that the guardian and/or conservator is meeting their responsibilities towards the ward and that the ward’s safety and security is intact.

Seek legal assistance when pursuing guardianship and/or conservatorship

Many people in the Atlanta Metro area will find themselves in a position in which they have a parent who still alive but are unable to care for themselves, or they have an adult child with special needs. They want to protect their child’s or parent’s well-being and assets. Guardianship and conservatorship are often viewed as a last resort when it comes to caring for an incapacitated individual, but sometimes it is necessary. These are legal processes, however, so if you are considering pursuing guardianship and/or conservatorship over a loved one, it can help to contact an elder law attorney who can explain your options.