What are guardians and conservators?

A guardian is a person appointed by the court to make decisions for you regarding your health and personal welfare if you become unable to make these decisions for yourself. The duties of guardianship include making decisions about the individual’s care, support, health, education, and therapy. The guardian must keep in contact with the protected person and visit him/her at least once every six months. The guardian also must encourage the individual’s participation in decision-making. The responsibilities may be both financial and personal. However, the appointment may only be for a limited guardianship, which authorizes responsibility for only those matters specifically mentioned by the court.  

A conservator is also appointed by the court. A conservator is appointed to handle your estate and financial affairs when you become unable to do so. The conservator uses the income of the estate for the support, care, and health of the individual and his/her dependents. The conservator is also responsible for investments and managing the estate. Neither guardians nor conservators may profit directly or indirectly from the estate or income of the protected person. 

For more information, see: Mental Capacity Standards in West Virginia: A Handbook on Legal Decisionmaking Authority (June 2002). A copy of this publication can be obtained by contacting West Virginia Senior Legal Aid, Inc. at 1 (800) 229-5068 or going to http://seniorlegalaid.net/index.php?option=com_docman&itemid=45 (last visited May 29, 2015).