In this article we will discuss the difference between a conservator and a guardian in Illinois, including “What are the Responsibilities of a Conservator in Illinois?”, “What are the Responsibilities of a Guardian in Illinois?” and “How to Appoint a Guardian or Conservator in Illinois.”
Although Illinois guardianships and conservatorships are very similar, there are some important differences to understand when deciding which may be appropriate for your loved ones. Individuals may need a guardian or a conservator in the case of an illness, injury or disability that makes them incapable of making decisions regarding their personal health or finances. The person needing the guardian or conservator is known as an incapacitated person because they are unable to make some or all of their personal decisions. Both guardians and conservators are appointed by a court and require a court process to determine the need of the incapacitated person.
A conservator is typically appointed to take care of someone’s finances in the event of the person being unable to do so his/herself. A conservator is also known as a “guardian of the estate.” We explain the role of a guardian of the estate in detail in Illinois Guardianship of the Estate explained. Conservators will keep detailed records and accountings of all actions and decisions made with a person’s assets. Conservators must present an annual report to the court to ensure that proper and responsible decisions are being made. A conservator has no control over their conservatee’s personal affairs or health decisions, they solely control the person’s finances.
The term “guardian” is sometimes used interchangeably with “guardian of the person,” as opposed to “guardian of the estate.” We explain the role of a guardian of the person in detail in Illinois Guardianship of the Person explained. A guardian of the person is typically not appointed to deal with large sums of money, but to deal with healthcare and non-financial decisions of someone who is unable to make the decisions themselves. A guardian typically is able to make decisions regarding housing, education, healthcare and social activities. Although guardians may deal with small amounts of money and financial decisions, most money decisions are not up to a guardian to make.
Once an incapacitated person is served with the correct papers in relation to having a guardian or conservator (See How to File a Petition for Guardianship in Illinois), the trial requires an in-depth investigation into the person’s disability, illness or injury to determine what kind of additional care the disabled adult or his or her estate requires. The incapacitated person will normally have a guardian ad litem who will be responsible for investigating the situation and making recommendations to the court regarding the disabled adult’s best interests.
Typically, guardianship and conservatorship preferences go to the closest family members who live in the area of the person requiring care. If a person has no close family members or friends, a professional conservator or guardian may be appointed. A person can be appointed as both a conservator and a guardian, if the incapacitated person requires both, or the court may decide to appoint two individuals to fill these roles.
Both roles are very important and require a large amount of responsibility, it is important for the person petitioning to be the guardian or conservator to understand which role they will be undertaking and what decisions they will be allowed to make within that role. Conservators must understand that they are still liable to the courts, and all financial decisions must be recorded and reported annually to the court.