Conservatorships and Guardianships: What’s the Difference?

By Kathleen C. Morris - 11/19/2020

A conservator or guardian is either a person or an organization appointed by the court to act on behalf of a minor or disabled adult.  If you are confused as to what the difference between the two is, don’t be.  Different states use the terms differently.


In Tennessee, for example, the term conservatorship is used for disabled adults and applies to both financial and healthcare decisions.  The term guardianship is applied in situations where a minor (a child under the age of 18) is in need of someone to act on their behalf.  Again, this applies to financial and healthcare decision. This most frequently happens when a child is living with someone who is not their parent.


In Virginia, a conservator is responsible for managing the financial affairs of a disabled individual, while a guardian is responsible for healthcare decisions.  Often the same person is appointed as both the guardian and the conservator. 


In Maryland, guardianship petitions specify whether the courts will appoint a guardian of the property and/or of the person.  Maryland does not use the term conservator. 


If you need help establishing a conservatorship or guardianship for a loved one, We are here to help. You can contact us here.