Guardianships & Conservtorship
Billings Guardianship and Conservatorship Attorneys
Compassionate Legal Guidance in Montana
When someone you love is no longer able to care for themselves, you may want to consider requesting a conservatorship or guardianship. A conservator or guardian has the right to make certain types of decisions for a person who lacks the capacity or is otherwise unable to sufficiently communicate.
At Dietrich & Associates, P.C., we recognize it can be difficult and stressful to manage the financial and practical needs of aging relatives and disabled adults. Our Billings guardianship and conservatorship lawyers can provide the capable counsel and personalized advocacy your family needs to effectively navigate these delicate situations. We have years of legal experience and will do everything we can to ensure you get the authority you need to care for your loved one.
The Difference between Conservatorships and Guardianships in Montana
Some people use “conservatorship” and “guardianship” interchangeably, but, in Montana, they are distinct legal processes. A guardian is responsible for making personal and healthcare-related decisions on behalf of the disabled individual, while a conservator manages the individual’s finances.
The legal procedures for requesting a conservatorship or guardianship are extremely similar. In fact, many families request a combined conservatorship and guardianship action, as often both are necessary. When granted, this allows someone to act as both the conservator and guardian to the disabled person.
When Is a Conservatorship or Guardianship Necessary?
Conservatorships and guardianships are designed to help family members support someone who is no longer able to care for themselves. It may be wise to consider a conservatorship and/or guardianship if your loved one is struggling to manage their affairs due to some level of incapacity.
Conditions or factors that may warrant a conservatorship or guardianship may include:
- One or more severe physical or mental illnesses
- A developmental disability
- Cognitive decline due to aging
- Debilitating drug or alcohol addiction
- Injuries resulting from a serious accident, such as a motor vehicle crash
As part of the formal process for seeking a conservatorship or guardianship, your loved one will be examined by a court-approved physician to verify the degree of incapacity. Their condition will be heavily scrutinized, and the court will determine whether they believe the conservatorship and/or guardianship is in the person’s best interest. These court procedures can often be overwhelming, but our Billings guardianship and conservatorship attorneys will advocate for you and your family every step of the way.
Alternatives to Conservatorships and Guardianships
A conservatorship is not the only way to ensure a responsible party is managing a disabled person’s finances. A durable power of attorney, executed prior to the onset of the individual’s disability, can enable a person or bank to serve as a financial fiduciary. It is also often possible to create a revocable trust on behalf of someone who is struggling with a disabling condition.
Pursuing a guardianship may not be necessary if your loved one executed a medical power of attorney prior to the disability. Their chosen agent can use the disabled person’s advance health care directives to communicate on their behalf in medical settings. Our team at Dietrich & Associates, P.C. can help you and your aging loved ones explore all of the estate planning tools that can be used to avoid the need for a conservatorship or guardianship.
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