Overview of the Process

The establishment of guardianships will differ to some extent based on state laws and local court procedures. However, the process involves some common steps, including a petition to initiate a court proceeding and a hearing to determine capacity levels and the need for a guardianship or conservatorship. The National Probate Court Standards is an excellent guide on the guardianship and conservatorship processes from petition to final report and discharge. The standards recommend that a petition to establish a guardianship or conservatorship include the following information:

  • The reasons why a guardianship or conservatorship is being sought
  • A description of the nature and extent of the limitations in the respondent's ability to care for herself/himself or to manager her or his financial affairs
  • Representations that less intrusive alternatives to guardianship or conservatorship have been examined
  • The guardianship/conservatorship powers being requested and the duration of the powers
  • The nature and estimated value of assets, the real and personal property included in the estate, and the estimated annual income (conservatorship cases).

Following the submission of a petition, the establishment of a guardianship or conservatorship generally involves the following steps, though variances will occur from court to court.