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Conservatorship or Legal Guardianship: Which is the Right Choice?

In New Jersey, a conservatorship is generally more limited than a legal guardianship and is a voluntary step taken by the ward. Like a legal guardianship, a conservatorship is a court-ordered relationship between a caregiver and a person who’s unable to make sound decisions due to old age or mental or physical disability. Unlike a legal guardianship, however, a conservatorship concerns only the conservatee’s financial matters when they need assistance. If found necessary, a conservator will be appointed with only those powers necessary to make the following financial decisions:

Power and duty to make reasonable payments for the support, maintenance, and education of the conservatee
Power and duty to pay all lawful debts owed by the conservatee
Power and duty to possess and manage the conservatee’s assets
Power and duty to collect all debts owed to the conservatee
Power to engage in tax, estate, and asset preservation planning

Both legal guardianships and conservatorships require considerable time and effort on the part of the legal guardian or conservator. While establishment of these relationships is the main obstacle in caring for your loved one, other procedural requirements exist after you’ve been appointed legal guardian or conservator.