Guardianship vs Conservatorship

Conservatorship vs guardianship_ your questions answered

If you’re trying to decide between a guardianship and a conservatorship, it’s important to know the facts. Both of these legal terms require context, for example the state in which the person lives, and the correct answer will depend upon the specifics of your situation. This is why we recommend speaking with an experienced attorney before making any quick and final decisions. 

Difference between conservatorship and guardianship

A conservatorship gives someone the authority to control another person’s financial decisions. Conservatorships are often used with adults who have developmental disabilities that result in them being unable to care for themselves, and make decisions for themselves, however they can be used in other situations also. Perhaps, the most notable conservatorship receiving a lot of airtime is that of Britney Spears, as she is not developmentally disabled or unable to take care of herself. Luckily, and with the help of an experienced attorney, she was able to end the conservatorship that was put in place over ten years ago by her biological father. It’s also important to note that there are two types of conservatorships, of the person and of the estate, and both come with different responsibilities. 

A guardianship is when someone is selected to be a legal guardian for a child or children when their parents pass away. During the estate planning process parents are encouraged to designate a legal guardian, because if they don’t, the court will decide who cares for their children. 

Limited conservatorship

A limited conservatorship is when a conservator is appointed by the court to be responsible for caring for the conservatee, including making important decisions on their behalf. The two most common types of limited conservatorship are:

  • Limited conservatorship of the estate: making financial decisions for the conservatee
  • Limited conservatorship of the person: making decisions about the personal needs of the conservatee 

Each state has its own rules when it comes to conservatorships, so please consult with a trusted estate planning attorney who can clearly explain what the rules and regulations are in your state. 

Legal guardianship and temporary guardianship

Legal guardianship most often refers to parents deciding who will take care of their child or children in the event that something happens to them. Selecting a legal guardian is a big decision and one that you should make carefully, because being named as a legal guardian for a child is a big responsibility. Temporary guardianship is used when parents need someone to temporarily care for their children, for example if they need to travel elsewhere for work or for a family emergency. 

For more information about conservatorships or guardianships, or if you need assistance determining which one is best for your situation, please contact our team at SCC Legal today or visit our website at:

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