Frequently asked Questions
Q: What is a guardianship or conservatorship?
A: In South Carolina a Guardian handles personal and custodial matters for an incapacitated adult. The incapacity may be due to mental illness, mental deficiency, physical illness or disability, advanced age, chronic use of drugs or alcohol, or other causes, except minority. A Guardian must decide where the person will live and make provisions for his/her care, comfort and maintenance, including mental and health care decisions. A court appointed Guardian must make yearly reports to the Probate Court regarding the condition of their ward. Guardians for minors are designated by the Family Court.
A Conservator manages financial affairs or property for an incapacitated adult or for a minor. The Conservator must manage and protect the property, and report periodically to the court about the assets, receipts and disbursements of the estate. No expenditures can occur without written Court order. If you are appointed conservator by the Court, it will be your responsibility to dutifully handle the financial situation of the protected person as stipulated by the Court.
Q: How do I know if I need to establish a guardianship or conservatorship?
A: If you know someone who, because of a disability, can no longer manage their money or make decisions about their personal or medical care, that person may need a court-appointed Guardian or Conservator. In the case of a minor, a Conservator must be appointed in certain cases when the minor is entitled to receive a sum of money from an insurance settlement, inheritance, etc.
Q: Where do I start and how much does it cost?
A: Contact an attorney who practices in the Probate Court. Lawyer's fees can vary depending on the circumstances and complexity of the case. A lawyer must also be appointed to represent the allegedly incapacitated adult.
Q: What is the general process?
A: A Guardian is appointed after a hearing where testimony from family, a physician and licensed social worker indicate that the person is in need of a Guardian to assist in his/her personal care. All prospective Guardians must review an educational video on the process. Conservatorship - Adult and Minor: A Conservator is appointed after a hearing where various professionals indicate that the medical and social status of the allegedly incapacitated adult requires a Conservator.
1: “Guardianship in South Carolina”
2: “Conservatorship in South Carolina”