Adult Guardianship & Conservatorship in Georgia
Are you seeking guardianship or conservatorship of a loved one in Georgia? When an adult is no longer able to care for themselves or their property, Georgia law may provide for the appointment of a guardian or conservator to make important decisions on their behalf. At Fennell, Briasco & Associates™, we help families evaluate the best legal options in caring for loved ones. Contact us today at (770) 956-4030 for a FREE legal consultation.
What is Guardianship? What is Conservatorship?
Guardianship: A legal guardian may be appointed to act on behalf of an incapacitated adult (the “ward”) who lacks the ability to make decisions about their health or safety. For instance, when an adult develops dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, the adult may need to be placed in a skilled nursing facility for their safety and security. To exercise this authority over the ward, the probate court may appoint a legal guardian to make medical and life decisions on behalf of the ward. After appointment, the legal guardian must file a Personal Status Report at least once per year to update the probate court on the care and status of the ward.
Conservatorship: A conservator may be appointed to manage the property of an incapacitated adult who lacks the ability to make decisions about their finances, bank accounts, and other assets. Because a person’s Last Will & Testament does not become effective until death, the conservator has the responsibility to care for property and assets when the owner can no longer do so. Upon appointment, the conservator must submit an Inventory and Asset Management Plan to the probate court, followed by an Annual Return at least once per year.
Petition for Guardianship in Georgia
Legal proceedings to appoint a guardian or conservator are serious. Because the appointment of a guardian/conservator will remove decision-making rights from the ward, the probate court takes its job very seriously in making sure that the incapacitated adult can no longer make responsible decisions. To vest these decision-making powers in another person, the probate court conducts hearings, evaluations, and other legal procedures to uphold the dignity of the ward.
To represent you throughout this process, the team at Fennell, Briasco & Associates™ can serve as your legal adviser so that you can achieve the best outcome for your family. We believe that an effective probate lawyer requires compassion, which is why our team is always available to listen to client stories and share memories about loved ones. During this time of stress and uncertainty, our mission is to make the road ahead a little easier. Call us today to discuss your options about caring for a loved one in Georgia.
Who Can Become a Guardian or Conservator in Georgia?
The probate court is generally required to appoint a guardian or conservator that will serve the best interests of the ward. In Georgia, the guardian/conservator will often be: (i) a spouse, (ii) an adult child, (iii) a parent, (iv) a friend or relative, (v) any adult specified by the ward prior to incapacity, or (vi) a County or Public Guardian.
How Can I Become a Guardian or Conservator in Georgia?
To seek guardianship or conservatorship in Georgia, you must follow the specific rules of your jurisdiction’s probate court. In most cases, Georgia law requires petitions for guardianship and conservatorship to comply with the following procedures:
- Filing a Petition: To begin the process of seeking guardianship or conservatorship in Georgia, you must file a “Petition for the Appointment of a Guardian” or “Petition for the Appointment of a Conservator” in the probate court of the county where the incapacitated adult lives (the “Proposed Ward”). The petitioner must complete a full application, as required by the county probate court, and submit any evidence or information regarding the health, cognitive function, or financial assets of the Proposed Ward.
- Notice: After filing, the probate court will send notices to interested parties, including other family members and the Proposed Ward himself/herself. The Proposed Ward will receive a copy of the petition. The Proposed Ward will also receive a notice from the probate court that they have the right to an attorney during probate proceedings. The Proposed Ward can hire independent counsel or the probate court will appoint counsel on their behalf.
- Evaluation: A physician, psychologist, or licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) is required to evaluate the decision-making capacity of the Proposed Ward. This independent evaluation seeks to protect the best interests of the incapacitated adult and to ascertain the degree to which the guardian or conservator should exercise decision-making authority over the Proposed Ward.
- Background Check: Most probate courts require a thorough review of the petitioner’s criminal history. A probate court, for instance, may deny one’s petition for guardianship/conservatorship if the petitioner has been previously convicted of fraud or theft.
- Bond: For the appointment of a conservator, the conservator must post bond before being appointed. In other words, the conservator must put forward some of their own money as a security deposit to make sure that they don’t steal or mismanage any of the assets of the Proposed Ward. The probate court will determine the amount of the bond based on the total size of the assets/property.
- Ongoing Reporting: After appointment, the guardian or conservator must comply with ongoing reporting obligations. By law, the guardian must file annual Personal Status Reports and the conservator must file both Inventory and Asset Management Plans and Annual Returns.
Emergency Petitions for Guardianship and Conservatorship
What happens if a loved one is involved in a serious traumatic injury (like a car accident) that leaves them unable to make important medical or financial decisions? In these cases, the clock is ticking for family members to take swift action for the care of a loved one. Emergency petitions for guardianship/conservatorship may be an option for Georgia families dealing with pressing medical issues. Emergency guardianship is temporary, usually lasting for about 60 days until a formal hearing is held. If you need to petition for emergency guardianship or conservatorship in GA, contact the team at Fennell, Briasco & Associates™ today.
Our Service Area
For legal help with guardianship, conservatorship, or other probate issues in Georgia, the team at Fennell, Briasco & Associates™ has over a decade of experience representing families in Georgia probate courts. We proudly represent clients in the following jurisdictions: