When a person is not legally capable of making important decisions on their own behalf, someone else must do that for them. Legal incapacity can stem from a number of circumstances, all resulting in the need to protect a vulnerable person.
Incapacity may only be temporary. For example, a minor child whose parents are unavailable to care for them lacks the legal capacity to make their own decisions because of their young age. When the child reaches legal adulthood at eighteen, the legal incapacity lifts.
Legal incapacity may also be permanent. Examples include an older adult with dementia that will only worsen with time, or a young person with developmental disabilities who has reached legal adulthood but lacks the ability to make decisions about their health, finances, or living situation.
In any of these situations, someone may need to be appointed by the court to make decisions for the incapacitated person—a guardian, a conservator, or both. A guardian makes personal decisions for the protected person, who is called the “ward.” These personal decisions include things like where to live and what medical treatment the ward will receive. A conservator makes financial decisions for the ward and manages the ward’s assets. If both a guardian and a conservator are needed, the same person can serve in both roles.
Guardians and conservators are considered to be fiduciaries, obligated to put the best interests of the ward before their own.
Sometimes the need for a guardian is undisputed, such as when a minor child loses both parents. Other times it is less clear, like when an aging parent believes they are fully capable of caring for themselves, but an adult child disagrees. No matter what the situation is, guardianship and conservatorship are legal relationships that shift important rights from one person to another. The need for a guardian or a conservator can arise after a difficult life transition or loss. That can make for strong emotions, especially if there is disagreement over whether a guardian is needed or who should serve in that capacity.
It is helpful for all parties to be represented by counsel to ensure their interests are protected and that they understand, to the extent possible, the rights and obligations that the guardianship and/or conservatorship will create. Attorney Sean Blume represents wards, guardians and conservators, and other interested parties in proceedings, including:
The decision to seek or oppose a guardianship is rarely easy, but the process is made easier with the help of an attorney who is experienced, compassionate, and familiar with the Michigan probate courts in which these proceedings take place.
The events leading up to the need for a guardianship or a conservatorship are often stressful for family members and loved ones. The same is true for the actual process of selecting the right guardian or conservator, and of the process of investing them with the appropriate legal authority to act on the ward’s behalf. Sean Blume has devoted most of his legal career to the protection of vulnerable individuals, especially children. He understands the complicated dynamics involved in these situations, as well as the legal steps required to protect the interests of a vulnerable party. Sean makes it a priority to explain issues clearly and compassionately and to make the guardianship or conservatorship process as painless as possible.
Blume Law Group represents fiduciaries, wards, and other interested parties in Michigan guardianships and conservatorships in Macomb, Oakland, Wayne, and St. Clair counties. We invite you to contact our office to schedule a free consultation. We look forward to working with you.