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Guardian, conservator power should be kept in check

On Behalf of | Apr 9, 2021 | Estate planning

The idea of a loved one becoming incapacitated can be difficult for any Georgia resident. The ordeal becomes even more difficult if the loved one did not take any precautionary measures, such as creating an estate plan, to address such a possibility. Instead, a court may have appointed a guardian or conservator to handle the person’s affairs.

Though the terms guardianship and conservator are sometimes used interchangeably, a guardian typically handles the ward’s personal well-being while a conservator addresses the ward’s financial matters. When appointed to such a role, the guardian or conservator has a fiduciary duty. This means that the appointed person has a legal obligation to act in the best interests of the incapacitated person, also known as the ward.

Typically, the court will provide the scope in which a guardian or conservator can act on behalf of the ward, which could include:

  • Making personal, financial, medical or legal decisions for the ward
  • Seeking court approval before making any significant transactions on behalf of the ward
  • Keeping records and reports about the decisions made by the guardian or conservator to present to the court on an annual basis

Though the court does try to keep guardian and conservator power in check, there are times when someone in one of these positions could breach his or her fiduciary duty. In such a case, the person could be misusing the power for personal gain, making decisions that have negative effects on the ward or otherwise not appropriately handling the obligations. If Georgia residents believe that this type of fiduciary relationship is harming a loved one, they may wish to gain information on possible legal actions for addressing the matter.