Guardianship generally denotes the protective proceedings over the medical, residential (placement), and personal affairs of an individual, as differentiated from that person’s financial and business affairs (which fall under conservatorship). In Michigan a guardianship is a wholly separate fiduciary appointment in probate court from conservatorship, such that a guardian and conservator over one individual can be the same person or different people.

A guardianship proceeding is commenced by filing a petition for the appointment of a guardian in the probate court of the county in which the affected individual resides or is located.

Anyone who has minor children must also consider the well-being of the children when both parents are no longer living. A parent has two important decisions to consider. He or she must first determine who is best able to care for the physical well being of the child or children. Secondly, the parent must also consider who is best suited to handle the child or children’s financial state of affairs. When choosing a Guardian or Conservator, it is essential that one choose an individual who is not only trustworthy but also has a genuine warmheartedness for the child or children. A separate Guardian and Conservator can be appointed or one person can be appointed to handle both duties. It is also possible to appoint two individuals who will act as Co-Guardians and Co-Conservators. Often, they will be close family members such as grandparents or siblings. Regardless, the choice is always up to the parent. The basic considerations can be easily included in the Will and/or Living Trust. It is important that anyone with minor children discuss these concerns with the estate planner so that any potential conflicts can be resolved before they become life altering problems.

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