While tending to your estate, you learn about guardianship and conservatorship. You want to preserve your assets and your independence as you age, and you may need some outside help from a conservator or guardian.
The Motley Fool breaks down the two decision-making roles. Understand both terms and how they fit into your estate plan.
If a medical or health condition renders you disabled or inept, your designated guardian has decision-making power regarding your continuing medical care and treatment. The person also takes charge of your living situation.
You may name your guardian in your durable power of attorney, living will or medical power of attorney. Despite your guardianship wishes, a court may determine that someone else possesses the skills and ability necessary to serve as your guardian, to protect your most favorable interests.
While deemed incapacitated or incompetent by the court, you also need someone to make financial decisions in your stead, known as conservatorship. This person becomes your conservator, who takes charge of your bank accounts and other financial assets, such as your investments. No matter your medical condition, bill collectors expect you to keep up with payments. Your conservator manages your bills, income and existing debts.
As with your guardianship, you may use your living will or durable or medical power of attorney to name your conservator. This may be the same person who serves as your guardian, or you may designate two different people. If you choose multiple individuals for each role, they all have equal decision-making power in your financial and medical affairs.
Learn as much as possible about elder law terms and subjects. A sound education helps you feel at ease about your estate plan.