What is the Difference between Guardianship of the Person and Guardianship of the Estate?

There are times when an incapacitated person, a Ward, may need either a guardian of the person or a guardian of the estate. There are other times when a Ward may need both. One person may serve in both roles, or the probate court may appoint two different people to serve in those roles.

Though there may be some overlap under special circumstances, the roles of a Guardian of the Person and a Guardian of the Estate are generally completely different. The guardian of the person is charged with caring for the person of the Ward by determining the Ward’s residence, seeing to it that the Ward receives proper medical care, applying for public benefits on behalf of the Ward, and other things the ward would do in regards to his person if he were able. The guardian of the person must keep the ward safe and to look out for his best interests. The guardian of the estate must report to the probate court once a year on the welfare of the Ward.

On the other hand, the guardian of the estate is charged with protecting and preserving the Ward’s assets. This may include tasks like paying bills and filing tax returns. It may also include preserving property by securing it and keeping taxes and hazard insurance current. A guardian of the estate may sell assets, with permission of the court, to provide for the Ward’s care. Whatever is prudent and necessary to protect and preserve assets and to provide for the Ward’s care is the job of the guardian of the estate. The guardian of the person must report to the probate court once a year on the status of the Ward’s financial affairs.