Family members will sometimes want to be appointed as “co-guardians” or “co-conservators” for a loved one who needs protection, based on chronic mental illness, dementia, or other problems. It has been our experience that courts are reluctant to appoint two (or more) people to serve in one role.
Serving as a guardian or conservator is a fiduciary position, which means that one person is responsible for the personal or financial well-being of another. Courts want to be sure that there is someone responsible for the protected person, and co-fiduciaries can sometimes lead to problems. For example, sometimes the two fiduciaries have differing views on what is best for the protected person. Each may hire a lawyer, which can result in increased attorney fees and costs.
That being said, it is not uncommon to have co-guardians appointed if there is a compelling reason presented as to why it would be in the protected person’s best interests. Sometimes a protected person’s needs are such that the duties of a guardian are more than one person can be expected to take on. Or in some situations, the fiduciary is busy with work and family, and it is more likely that someone could be available to the protected person if there were two serving as guardian.
It is very rare, however, for a court to approve co-conservators. Generally courts want one person to serve in that position so that there is one person who can be held accountable for all transactions. It could also result in additional expense to the protected person if each person has to be bonded, and again, there is always the possibility of disagreement and additional attorney fees.
All fiduciaries, whether serving alone or serving with another, need to be mindful of their responsibilities to the protected person and the court. It is all the more important when there are co-fiduciaries that they keep in close contact with each other to ensure that the protected person’s needs are met.
An experienced Guardianship Attorney can guide you and your family through this process. Contact the guardianship attorneys with the Law Offices of Nay & Friedenberg in Portland, Oregon at (503) 245-0894 to set an appointment.