TERMS USED IN MISSOURI GUARDIANSHIP AND CONSERVATORSHIP

One of the things that I enjoy the most about practicing in the area of probate matters is helping families get appointed guardian and sometimes conservator for their children with special needs or an elderly parent.  It’s a rewarding process to assist a family with these types of cases and to see what a difference it makes in the person’s life.

There are a variety of terms used in the process of obtaining guardianship and conservatorship and this article covers not only the terms but their definitions*.

Here they are:

Adult – A person who has turned 18 in the state of Missouri.

Conservator – A person or corporation that has been appointed by the court to care for an have custody of the property and finances of a minor, elderly or disabled person.  This person oversees and makes decisions related to the financial affairs of the person.

Disabled Person – A person who is unable by reason of any physical or mental condition to receive and evaluate information or who lacks the ability to communicate decisions needed to manage his financial affairs and resources.  A person can also be partially disabled.

Guardian – A person appointed by the court to represent a minor or an incapacitated person.  A limited guardian is a person whose powers are limited by the court to only certain functions.

Guardian ad litem – A person appointed by the court to represent a minor, incapacitated person, a disabled person or unborn person in certain cases.  The guardian ad litem or “GAL” is appointed for a limited period of time or for a specified purpose.  In many guardian cases, the GAL is an attorney appointed by the court.

Incapacitated Person – A person who is unable by reason of any physical or mental condition to receive and evaluate information or to communicate decisions to such an extent that the person is unable to provide himself with food, clothing, shelter, safety, or other care that would prevent physical injury, illness, or disease from taking place.  This term includes partially incapacitated person.

Least Restrictive Environment – The residence of an incapacitated person which imposes on the ward only such restraints which are necessary to prevent him from injuring himself or others and which provides him with such care,  habilitation and treatment as is appropriate considering his physical and mental condition and financial means.

Manage Financial Resources – The ability to obtain, administer, dispose of real and personal property, business property, benefits, income or property; or to provide for the care and support of yourself or anyone under your care by ordinary skills and intelligence based on training and education.

Minor – Any person under the age of 18 in Missouri.

Partially Disabled Person – A person who lacks some, but not all, of the abilities necessary to manage his financial affairs.

Partially Incapacitated Person – A person who lacks some, but not all, of the abilities necessary to provide himself with food, clothing, shelter and other essential care.

Protectee – A person for whom a conservator or limited conservator has been appointed.

Respondent – A person who is alleged in a petition to be incapacitated or disabled.  The term is used in written notices of hearing of guardianship or conservatorship and during the court proceedings.

Ward – A minor or an incapacitated person for whom a guardian or limited guardian has been appointed.

*These definitions can be found in the following Missouri statutes:  RsMo. 475.010 and RsMo. 1.202.

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