Types of Guardianships

Person & Property Guardianships
There are 2 main types of guardianship: of the person and of the property. A guardianship of the person (now called guardianship) may remove from the incapacitated person the power to contract marriage, to make other contracts, to consent to medical treatment, to establish a residence, and to bring or defend an action in court. A guardianship of the property (now called conservatorship) may remove from the ward the power to bring or defend actions in court, to make contracts, to buy and sell property, and to manage their business and financial affairs. Often, a court appoints one person as guardian and conservator.

Within these 2 main categories, a guardianship can be either permanent or emergency. Also, a guardianship can be total (granting all powers) or the guardian’s or conservator’s powers may be limited, with the ward retaining some powers which could have been removed. Georgia law is progressive in this regard, recognizing that not all incapacitated persons are incapacitated in the same manner and to the same degree.

The law specifically requires that guardianships shall be “designed to encourage the development of maximum self-reliance and independence of the ward and shall be ordered only to the extent necessitated by the person’s actual and adaptive limitations.” OCGA 29-5-7(h). For example, just because a person does not possess the judgment to make contracts does not necessarily mean that he or she cannot decide where to live.

Emergency Guardianships
Finally, a guardianship can be created on an emergency basis if there is:
  • Dissipation of the person’s assets
  • Illness or disease
  • Immediate, clear and substantial risk of death
  • Irreparable waste
  • Serious injury
Please understand that if an emergency guardianship/conservatorship petition is filed with the court and if granted by the court, then the emergency guardianship/conservatorship would only be valid for 60 days.

Permanent Guardianships
Before the expiration of the emergency guardianship/conservatorship, a permanent guardianship/conservatorship petition would need to be filed with the court in order for the guardianship/conservatorship to remain in place. A permanent guardianship/conservatorship petition usually takes about 4 to 6 weeks to process and grant by the court because of the complex sequence of events that must occur in a specific, timely manner.

Filing Fees

If an emergency guardianship/conservatorship petition is filed with the Court and then a permanent guardianship/conservatorship petition is filed with the court, then the entire amount of filing fees must be paid a 2nd time for the permanent guardianship/conservatorship proceeding. Adult guardianships/conservatorships usually cost about $500 to $600 for each petition filed with the court.