A guardianship is established for a person who is deemed to be “legally incompetent”. A guardianship may have to be established for a minor child who, by law, is deemed to be legally incompetent to enter into most contracts. Guardianship can also be necessary for an adult who has lost legal competency because of an accident injury or advanced stages of dementia.

It is possible, under certain cases, that a petition for emergency temporary guardianship can be instituted in order for the guardian to have the legal authority to put a child on their health insurance or enroll them in school. An emergency temporary guardianship can also be instituted when an emergency exists and there is no legal adult willing or able to care for the child. Emergency temporary guardianship are also available for adults especially when the person needing a guardianship has not executed a durable medical power of attorney or a general durable power of attorney so that a person can deal with their financial affairs. It is not uncommon for a proceeding for guardianship to be coupled with a proceeding for conservatorship.

A conservatorship is a court proceeding which grants the conservator the authority to make financial decisions for a person who has a mental or physical incapacity that renders him/her unable to make informed decisions. Conservators are generally family members but, in some cases, can be a public fiduciary. A conservator must act solely in the best interest of the person and the court monitors the conservatorship which requires periodic reports and accountings.