As you begin creating your estate plan, it can be difficult to understand the different terms that are used. Even though you may not be a legal professional, it’s still important to know what these terms mean so that you can use them properly and help protect your family.

Here, we discuss the difference between guardianship and conservatorship.

Guardianship: care for a ward

A guardian is someone who will oversee caring for a ward, or someone who is not able to care for themselves. When you appoint a guardian, it should be someone that you trust and know will lovingly and responsibly look after your loved one. Often, guardians are chosen to care for minors, adults with disabilities or elderly adults who need care.

Conservatorship: care for an estate

A conservator, on the other hand, oversees an estate. This can mean that they will look after and make decisions concerning your property or your business if you are incapacitated. It can also mean that they will care for the estate of a minor beneficiary or person who is unable to do so themselves.

If you know that someone you are responsible for should not care for themselves or plan to bequeath part of your estate to someone who may not be able to manage it on their own, you should consider including a guardian or conservator in your will. If you do not and your dependent or beneficiary is determined incapacitated under New York’s Mental Hygiene Law, a guardian or conservator may be appointed for them.