What is a guardianship?

A legal guardianship is a right given to a caretaker to be responsible for the welfare of a minor or an incapacitated person, called a ward. The guardian has the ability to make decisions regarding care and custody for the ward, including decisions regarding food, health care and lodging.
What is a conservatorship?

A legal conservatorship is a right given to a person to be responsible for a minor or incapacitated person’s finances and assets. Similar to a guardian, the conservator has the ability to make decisions for the ward, but in this case, the decisions are limited to matters of finances.
Who needs a guardian or conservator?

Missouri considers four groups of people to be in need of guardians or conservators:

  1. a minor with no living parents;
  2. a minor with parents whose parental rights have been terminated;
  3. a minor whose parents have been deemed unfit or unwilling to parent by the Probate Court, and;
  4. an incapacitated person


Missouri defines an “incapacitated person” as “one 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 he or she lacks capacity to meet essential requirements for food, clothing, shelter, safety or other care such that serious physical injury, illness, or disease is likely to occur. The term “incapacitated person” as used in this chapter includes the term partially incapacitated person unless otherwise specified or apparent from the context.” MO. Rev. Stat. 475.010 (10).
Who can serve as a guardian or conservator?

Anyone can petition the Probate Court to become a guardian or conservator, and the court’s decision of who to appoint will be based on considerations of what is in the best interests of the ward. Family members are generally considered good candidates to care for the ward. A conservator can be either a person or a corporation. It is possible for the same person to be both a guardian and conservator, so long as the judge deems this arrangement to be in the best interests of the ward.