What is the difference between a guardian and a conservator in Virginia and when are they necessary?

If an adult can no longer manage their personal affairs the court will appoint a substitute decision maker.  This may include financial, medical, and/or personal decisions.  An adult who has lost their ability to make these kind of decisions is referred to legally as being “incapacitated.” Guardianship or conservatorship is a legal relationship between a competent adult and an incapacitated person (the ward) who can no longer take care of his or her own affairs.  But what exactly do those terms mean?  Let’s look first at what the law considers to be an incapacitated adult. An incapacitated person is an adult who has been found by the court to be incapable of receiving and evaluating information effectively or responding to people, events, or environments to such an extent that the individual lacks the capacity to:
  1. Meet the essential requirements for his/her health, care, safety, or therapeutic needs without the assistance or protection of a guardian
  2. Manage property or financial affairs or provide for his/her support or for the support of legal dependents without the assistance or protection of a conservator.

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