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Differences between conservatorships and guardianships

On Behalf of | May 6, 2022 | Guardianships

Conservatorships and guardianships are created to provide services for people who cannot take care of themselves because of mental or physical deficiencies. The Florida court system intervenes to choose a conservator or guardian who is usually a family member or close friend. Although both legal concepts sound similar, there are noticeable differences between the two.


A conservatorship is the temporary appointing of a guardian to make decisions for a person who is mentally or physically incapacitated as a result of illness, injury or advanced age. A judge appoints a conservator to care for an incapacitated adult or a minor.


A guardianship is the court-ordered appointing of a person to an adult or minor who is incapable of making decisions on his or her own. The person who is issued a legal guardian is usually a minor but could also be a mentally or physically disabled person. A guardian for a child is often a family member who assumes the responsibilities of his or her parent.

The differences

Conservatorships tend to last for temporary periods while guardianships last on a permanent basis. A conservatorship usually involves a person who is affected by a severe mental illness or physical injury. In contrast, guardianship involves a person of a young age who is not yet an adult. A person who needs a guardian is called a ward while a person who receives a conservator is a conservatee.

Intervention with the help of courts

Most people who have to deal with an incapacitated individual learn to understand the differences between conservatorship and guardianship. This is necessary to avoid selecting the wrong type of legal service for a loved one. A conservatorship is recommended for a short-term mental illness while guardianship is recommended to build a permanent bond.