5 Important Facts About Guardianship and Conservatorship in Idaho

Guardianship and conservatorship are designed to protect and support individuals who may be unable to make decisions about their personal and financial affairs on their own, but not all individuals or situations require guardianship or conservatorship. Understanding these 5 important fats about guardianship and conservatorship in Idaho can help you make an informed decision. 

  1. Guardianship in Idaho

 Guardianship in Idaho is a legal arrangement where one person, known as the guardian, is appointed by the court to make decisions on behalf of another individual, referred to as the ward. This arrangement is typically necessary when the ward is unable to make decisions about their personal and medical matters on their own. Here are some common situations that may warrant guardianship in Idaho: 

  • Guardianship for Minors: One of the most common scenarios for guardianship is when parents are unable to provide proper care for their children due to reasons such as illness, incarceration, or other circumstances.
  • Guardianship for Adults with Developmental Disabilities in Idaho: For adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities who may be incapable of making decisions about their personal care and well-being independently, guardianship can provide essential support.
  • Guardianship for Incapacitated Adults: When a person through illness or injury is no longer able to make decisions about their personal care, a guardian may be needed to make medical decisions and organize living arrangements. As individuals age, they may experience conditions like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, which can impair their capacity to manage their affairs. In such cases, guardianship can ensure their well-being and safety.
  • Temporary Guardianship: Also known as emergency guardianship, temporary guardianship can be granted by the court when needed to protect health, safety, or welfare of a person until a guardianship petition can be heard by the court. 
  1. Conservatorship in Idaho

 While in some states guardianship and conservatorship are a combined type of authority, in Idaho, conservatorship is separate from guardianship. Conservatorship is a legal relationship in which one person, known as the conservator, is appointed by the court to manage the financial affairs and assets of another person, referred to as the ward. Conservatorship becomes essential when an individual is unable to handle their financial matters independently due to incapacity or disability. 

  1. Key Differences Between Guardianship and Conservatorship

 Understanding the differences between guardianship and conservatorship in Idaho is important for anyone navigating these legal waters. 

  • Guardianship primarily centers on personal and medical decisions, encompassing healthcare, housing, and daily care. It provides guidance and support for individuals who may not be able to make these choices independently.
  • Conservatorship, on the other hand, is focused on financial decisions. This includes managing bank accounts, investments, real estate, and other assets. The conservator is responsible for ensuring the financial well-being and security of the ward. 
  1. The Legal Process of Establishing Guardianship and Conservatorship

 The process of establishing guardianship or conservatorship in Idaho typically follows these steps: 

  • Petition: The process starts when a petition is filed with the court. A concerned party, which may be a family member, friend, or interested party, initiates this step. The petition outlines the reasons and necessity for guardianship or conservatorship.
  • Evaluation: Following the petition, the court may appoint an evaluator to assess the capacity of the proposed ward or protected person. The evaluator’s role is to determine whether the individual is genuinely unable to make decisions independently.
  • Hearing: After the evaluation, a hearing is conducted to decide whether guardianship or conservatorship is necessary. During the hearing, all relevant parties, including the proposed ward or protected person, can present evidence and express their views. The court weighs the evidence and input from all parties to make an informed decision.
  • Appointment: If the court deems that guardianship or conservatorship is necessary, it will appoint a guardian or conservator. The court order specifies the extent of their authority and outlines the specific responsibilities and limitations.
  • Ongoing Oversight: Guardianship and conservatorship proceedings do not end with the appointment. The court maintains ongoing oversight to ensure the guardian or conservator fulfills their duties effectively. This oversight is essential to safeguard the ward’s or protected person’s interests and well-being. 
  1. Balancing Protection and Autonomy

 Guardianship and conservatorship are essential tools in Idaho for maintaining the well-being and financial interests of individuals who may not be able to make significant decisions independently. The courts aim to strike a delicate balance between protection and autonomy. While the primary goal is to ensure that the ward or protected person receives the necessary support, it is equally important to respect their individuality and decisions when possible. 

Next Steps

Guardianship and Conservatorship are not right for every person and every circumstance. If you live in Idaho and would like more information about options, feel free to take a look at our frequently asked guardianship questions page on our website.