Keep Your Family’s Future Secure

The difference between a guardianship and a conservatorship

On Behalf of | Oct 18, 2021 | Guardianships And Conservatorships

In many states, conservatorship is guardianship for adults. Florida, however, uses the term conservatorship to refer to absentee situations. Guardianships apply to both minors and adults.


An absentee is someone who has gone missing due to mental illness or serving in the military. Aside from residents of Florida, anyone who owns property in Florida could be an absentee.

You could request a conservatorship if someone you were dependent on has gone missing in order to continue meeting your needs. When you file a petition for conservatorship, you must describe the circumstances under which your loved one went missing and why you should be the conservator. You also need to list the absentee’s estate along with an estimate of what it’s worth.

Incapacitated family member

When a family member becomes incapacitated, you could file a petition for guardianship. A guardianship could let you take care of his or her finances and health care needs. The type of authority the judge grants depends on the family member’s needs. Judges have the right to further limit what you can do as the individual’s guardian to help protect that person’s interests. Judges also try to choose alternative solutions besides guardianships to avoid taking away an individual’s autonomy.

Common decisions you may make as a guardian are where the incapacitated person lives, who can contact him or her, who treats his or her medical conditions, and whether he or she can continue driving. Guardians of the estate typically have the authority to pay bills for the incapacitated person. Other possible duties include managing the individual’s assets and investment accounts.

Whether your family member has gone missing or not determines what type of authority you could petition for in Florida. The extent of his or her incapacitation also influences the level of control you will have.