What are the types of guardianships?

A "guardian of the person" is appointed to protect and have physical custody of a ward and to provide for the ward's day-to-day maintenance, paid from the ward's assets. Maintenance means providing food, shelter, clothing, health care and other necessities. It includes responsibility for the education of a minor ward as required by law, and making decisions about medical treatment and other professional services the ward may require. A guardian of the person also serves as guardian of an incompetent adult's minor children, if no other guardian has been appointed for them. Only a "natural person" (not a bank or a company) can be appointed as a guardian of the person.

A guardian of the estate" is appointed to manage the property and financial assets of the ward for the ward's best interests. Specifically, the guardian of the estate must:

  • pay all debts owed by the ward;
  • collect all money owed to the ward;
  • settle and adjust any assets received from the executor or administrator of an estate;
  • deposit all funds of the ward into an account in the name of the guardian as fiduciary;
  • invest any of the ward's funds not needed for current obligations according to legal guidelines;
  • file an official inventory and accounts of the ward's estate with the court on a regular basis;
  • file or defend lawsuits on behalf of the ward if necessary to protect his or her interests.

(Note: Unless the court order appointing a guardian specifies otherwise, the same person is normally named as both guardian of the person and the estate.)

A "limited guardian" is a 'guardian whose powers are specifically limited by the probate court. A ward for whom a limited guardian has been appointed retains all rights in all areas not covered by the Order of Limited Guardianship.

An "Interim guardian" is a guardian appointed after a former guardian has been removed or resigns when the welfare of the ward requires immediate action.

An emergency guardian" is a guardian appointed by the probate court without a formal hearing when an emergency exists and a guardian is necessary to prevent injury to the person or estate of the ward.

A "conservator" is a person appointed by the probate court at the request of a mentally competent adult who is physically unable to manage certain aspects of his or her life. The person requesting the appointment of a conservator specifies the powers requested on the Petition for Conservatorship.