Guardianship & Conservatorship – An Overview

A “guardian” is someone who is appointed by the court to oversee an incapacitated person’s care and decision making. A “conservator” is someone who is appointed by the court to manage an incapacitated person’s financial affairs. Under Montana law, an “incapacitated person” is defined as any person who is impaired because of:

  • Mental illness
  • Mental deficiency
  • Physical illness
  • Physical disability
  • Chronic use of drugs
  • Chronic intoxication
  • Any other cause where a person lacks sufficient understanding or capacity to make or communicate responsible decisions

Incapacity must be determined by a physician.  A guardian and/or conservator may be appointed only as is necessary to promote and protect the well-being of the incapacitated person.  This may mean that a guardian and/or conservator’s powers may be limited.  In many cases, the guardian and the conservator are the same person.  In other instances, one person may be appointed to make personal care decisions while another is appointed to handle a person’s financial affairs.  The guardian and conservator may be a family member, a professional, or another person or entity suitable for the appointment.  For more information about obtaining guardianship and conservatorship in Montana, call our office or visit: https://dphhs.mt.gov/Portals/85/sltc/documents/legaldeveloper/legalforms/CH%205%20Guardianship%20and%20Conservatorship.pdf and http://leg.mt.gov/bills/mca_toc/72_5.htm.