What Is The Difference Between A Guardianship And Conservatorship In Boise?

Twin Falls Divorce Lawyer

Legal guardianship and conservatorship can be beneficial options to protect the welfare of minors and incapacitated adults. Both options allow a designated individual, usually a family member or loved one, to take responsibility for a vulnerable person or child’s best interests. This can specifically refer to an individual’s financial best interests or overall health and well-being.

The terms guardianship and conservatorship are sometimes used interchangeably. However, although interlinked and somewhat similar, they are two different concepts. The main difference between guardianship and conservatorship is that a guardian has a responsibility for the care of the individual, including education, well-being, and medical decisions, for example. Whereas a conservator, on the other hand, is only responsible for managing the individual’s financial affairs, assets, and property. Often a petition for guardianship is accompanied by a petition for conservatorship to give a designated person joint guardianship conservatorship.

The process of establishing legal guardianship or conservatorship through the Idaho courts can be complex. Prospective guardians may need to undergo specific training and will need to provide substantial paperwork and supporting evidence to accompany the petition. Often, the child or vulnerable adult in question will benefit from establishing guardianship conservatorship as quickly as possible. Without experience with the legal system, this process can be lengthy and challenging.

The Idaho Divorce Law Firm has extensive experience in guardianship conservatorship cases in Idaho. Our attorneys can help you every step of the way, and we will ensure your case is as efficient as possible. Often, establishing guardianship can be emotional and stressful for all parties involved. Our family law attorneys are compassionate and empathetic to our client’s situations. We will manage the paperwork and hard work on your behalf to allow you to prepare for becoming a guardian or conservator.

If you are seeking guardianship of a child or adult, reputable legal counsel to help you through the process is essential. Contact the Idaho Divorce Law Firm for a consultation with a knowledgeable family law lawyer to find out how we can help you. To schedule your consultation, contact The Idaho Divorce Law Firm at 208-314-3302.

What Is Legal Guardianship?

In Idaho, guardianship can apply to a child under the age of 18 or an adult who is incapacitated or developmentally disabled. The purpose of guardianship is to award responsibility for taking care of and making decisions on behalf of a minor or adult to protect their best interests.

In reference to a minor, guardianship may be required if a child’s parents have passed away or if they have voluntarily or involuntarily lost their parental rights. Parental rights may be terminated if a Judge decides it is in a child’s best interests. This could be because the parents are unable to provide the necessary care, support, and supervision, or it could be due to more extreme circumstances, such as abuse and neglect.

Guardianship can also be applicable to adults who are incapacitated or unable to care for themselves because of a physical or developmental disability. To appoint a guardian on the grounds of incapacity, the court must be petitioned for a finding of incapacity. The court must deem the person impaired to the extent that they cannot make decisions for themselves to require guardianship.

The responsibilities of an appointed guardian can include managing a child’s care, upbringing, and education, making medical decisions, and acting as a legal representative. In cases of incapacitated adults, guardianship should be the least restrictive arrangement possible to support the individual’s needs while safeguarding their autonomy.

What Is Legal Conservatorship

Conservatorship differs from guardianship in that a conservator is responsible for overseeing and managing the finances of a minor or incapacitated person. Typically, a conservator’s duties involve caring for the money and property that requires management that cannot otherwise be provided. This can also apply to businesses and business affairs.

Conservatorship is often necessary when a person is unable to manage their own financial affairs, either due to disability, incapacitation, or because they are a child. Often a conservatorship action will go alongside a petition for guardianship for joint guardianship conservatorship.

The role of a conservator differs from a guardian because they have no authority to oversee or make decisions regarding the individual’s health or welfare. Their oversight remains exclusively on the financial affairs of the protected person.

Types Of Guardianship In Boise, Idaho

In cases of minor guardianship, usually, a guardian is someone who is related to or has a close relationship with a child, such as a grandparent or an aunt. The Idaho legal system aims to keep a family as intact as possible while ensuring a child is protected and receives suitable personal care.


No guardians are default guardians in the State of Idaho, and they must be appointed by the courts. The only exception to this rule is natural guardians, who are assumed guardians of a child with no requirement for formal appointment from the court. The only example of a natural guardian is a child’s parent. For anyone else to be considered a minor’s guardian, they must be legally appointed.


In most circumstances, a guardianship arrangement that is not explicitly temporary is permanent guardianship. This means that it will only be terminated when the child turns 18, or if the child marries, is adopted, dies, or the guardianship is terminated by a court order.


Temporary, or what is sometimes known as emergency guardianship, is an individual who is appointed to protect the health and safety of a minor or incapacitated person. Often this is used in situations where the individual’s safety, health, or welfare is at risk.

A temporary guardianship is in place until the court can find a long-term solution for guardianship of the child or adult. Generally, this may not exceed a 6 month period, unless it is extended by the court with good justification.


General guardianship is a term typically used when referring to the guardianship of an adult. This is because the responsibilities of a general guardian include complete authority over care, education, welfare, and health, which are responsibilities that are automatically assumed by a child’s guardian.

This is the most restrictive type of adult guardianship and may not be suitable for everyone. As such, a distinction can be made between general and limited guardianship for adults to ensure the protected person’s care suits their requirements.


Limited guardianship is often used for adults who are incapacitated in some areas of their life, but do not require guardianship over every element of their life. For example, a guardian’s powers may be limited to only having authority over medical treatment decisions for the incapacitated person.


A testamentary guardian is typically an individual that was appointed by a parent for their child in their will. Testamentary guardians can also be appointed for adults by the spouse or parents of an incapacitated person in a will. Under Idaho law, a spouse’s appointment will take priority over a parent’s regarding guardianship of a developmentally disabled adult.

Filing For Guardianship and Conservatorship In Boise

Any interested person is able to seek guardianship over a family member or loved one.

A prospective guardian must complete and submit several forms to the court, including a petition for appointment of a guardian and an affidavit of service of a petition for appointment. If a minor is 14 years old or older, a guardianship nomination by a minor form will also be required.

The process of filing for adult guardianship or conservatorship of an incapacitated person differs from applying for guardianship of minor children. A petition for a finding of incapacity or legal disability, alongside relevant training certificates for becoming a guardian, will be also required to support the application.

In addition to completing and filing the necessary forms, guardianship or conservatorship proceedings usually also require obtaining relevant signatures, attending court hearings, completing criminal background checks, providing notices, and paying court fees. The process of filing for guardianship conservatorship can look different with every case, depending on the specific circumstances. An experienced family law attorney can help you manage this complex process smoothly and successfully.

The Idaho Divorce Law Firm Guardianship and Conservatorship Attorneys

In order to become a guardian or conservator, prospective guardians, and conservators must successfully file and navigate the legal process in Idaho family court.

There are many potential options for guardianship and conservatorship and several prerequisites, procedures, and steps that must be completed. The complicated process can feel stressful and overwhelming, especially on top of dealing with the family issues that lead you to file.

Allow the experienced attorneys at The Idaho Divorce Law Firm to reduce your stress, help you find the best solution for your specific circumstances, and allow you to focus on your family. If represented by our firm, we will manage the hard work for you and ensure the final outcome is in the best interests of your family and the individual in question.

To discuss how guardianship or conservatorship could apply to your circumstances, schedule a consultation with The Idaho Divorce Law Firm today by calling our team at 208-314-3302.