Guardian and Conservator Nomination Lawyer
It is scary to contemplate a future where you are not able to protect and care for your children. However, it is important to face that uncomfortable prospect and develop a plan so that your family is prepared in case of an emergency.
At Peach State Wills & Trusts, we help families nominate the right person to provide care for their children as guardians and conservators. As part of the thorough estate plan, these nominations can ensure that your wishes are followed and your family is protected in a crisis situation.
Difference Between a Guardian and a Conservator
Technically, a guardian is usually appointed to manage someone's living arrangements while a conservator is appointed by the court to manage their financial matters. For children who are not legally allowed to manage property or authorize their own health treatment and other matters, the role of guardian and conservator is usually held by the same person.
However, if a child has significant assets, it might make sense to nominate a separate conservator with expertise in financial matters to handle investments. Part of the discussion and evaluation process in choosing the person to nominate as guardian should involve a consideration of financial management skills.
Understanding Guardianship in Georgia
Georgia law provides for five different types of guardians for minors:
- Natural guardians- Each parent is a natural guardian of their child. However, if one parent has been granted sole physical and legal custody, only that parent is the child's natural guardian.
- Testamentary guardians: When parents use their will to nominate a guardian and/or conservator (typically called a trustee when the nomination is made via a will) for their child, the person nominated will usually be issued a letter of guardianship when the will is probated.
- Standby guardians: If a healthcare professional determines that a parent is not able to care for a child due to a condition, a standby guardian may be appointed to provide care for up to four months.
- Temporary guardians: An individual with physical custody of a minor can ask the court for temporary guardianship rights. However, this does not give them access to the child's property unless they are also granted conservatorship.
- Permanent guardians: If parents fail to or are unable to care for a minor, the court may appoint a permanent guardian.
Parents who plan in advance to nominate a guardian or conservator to protect their child usually do so through their will, nominating a testamentary guardian. A trust cannot be used to nominate a guardian in Georgia, so if a parent has created a revocable trust to bypass probate, they also need a will for guardianship nomination.
The Duties of a Guardian or Conservator
The guardian of a minor takes on all the duties of a natural parent, from daily care to making important decisions about the child's health care, education, and upbringing. A conservator handles the minor's financial affairs and manages any real estate or other property on their behalf. For many minors, one person serves as both the guardian and conservator.
Guardianship or conservatorship usually ends when the minor turns 18 unless the child is considered legally incapacitated.
Peach State Wills & Trusts Can Protect Your Children With the Right Guardian Nomination
If you have minor children or serve as legal guardian of a grandchild or other relative, it is critical to have a plan in place to provide the right care for that child if something should happen to you. The dedicated team at Peach State Wills & Trusts is ready to assist.
We work with you to develop the best plan to protect your family, including the right nominations for guardian and conservator roles. Contact us today to ensure you are prepared.