- Conservatorship— It is axiomatic that a competent adult manages their own finances. However, if a person is disabled due to mental disease or is a spend-thrift, we can request that a judge appoint a conservator to manage the disabled person’s finances. The conservator may be family member, friend or an a professional conservator. His or her duties range from paying bills from the person’s checkbook to selling real estate or establishing a trust for tax saving and/or asset protection purposes.
- Guardianship— An almost sacred principle in our country is that a competent adult can make decisions about their own lives. No one can tell another where they can live, what medical care to receive (or if any at all) who they can marry, associate with or how to manage their day to day lives. However, mental disease or injury can make a person unable to make rational decisions about their lives making them a danger to themselves or others. When this occurs, we can request that a judge appoint a guardian. A guardian is a person appointed by a Judge to make personal, medical or residential decisions for another person who cannot make them themselves. Because this is a serious limitation on one’s personal liberty, the court procedure has strict requirements that must be met in order to be appointed. Over the years, we have gotten many individuals appointed guardians enabling them to take care of their parents, children, relatives or friends. The context is often an elderly or mentally ill parent, sibling or relative who now needs assistance in areas they formerly managed themselves.
Frank V. Grimaldi and Seth J. Urbanoski practice guardianship law and conservatorship law in Cambridge, MA.