Guardianship and estate administration are handled by the probate court. A guardian may need to take control of the care and management of a loved one who is no longer able to properly care for himself. Or, after the loss of a loved one, you may be left wondering how to pass that person’s property to surviving family members. I will guide you through the probate process.
Estate Administration – Estate administration is commonly referred to as “probate.” It is the probate court process for ensuring that the assets of a deceased person’s estate are collected and distributed according to the decedent’s Will, or according to state law if the deceased person did not leave a Will. The probate process consists of (1) the filing of the estate, (2) the inventory and appraisal of the estate, and (3) the final accounting of the estate, also referred to as the closing.
Guardianship – The purpose of a guardianship action is to protect the person and the estate of someone who is found incapable of managing her own affairs. The guardian is appointed by the probate court to protect the incapacitated person, commonly called the “ward.” A guardian of the person and of the estate is appointed to make health decisions as well as manage finances of the incompetent. The guardianship process is initiated by the court or by the application of someone interested in the potential ward. If the potential ward has previously named a guardian in a properly executed durable power of attorney, the court will generally designate that person as guardian. Once a guardianship is approved by the court, only the court can terminate it.
Conservatorship – A conservatorship is similar to a guardianship in that it also protects a vulnerable person. The difference is that the conservatorship is initiated by the incapacitated person, instead of the court or an interested person. Conservatorships are sought to assist the incapacitated person through a temporary illness or situation. Once recuperation has ended, that person can resume her own care.