• James D. Lynch

What is the Difference Between a Conservatorship and a Guardianship?

There is typically some confusion about the difference between a conservatorship and a guardianship. Part of this confusion is due to the fact that the two terms have different meanings in different states.


For example, in Arizona a guardianship gives a person control over another person’s day-to-day decisions (such as decisions about living arrangements and healthcare), whereas a conservatorship provides a person with the authority to control another person's financial decisions. In California, guardianship is the term used regarding the care of a minor, while conservatorship applies to the care of an incompetent or incapacitated adult.


In Texas, the term conservatorship refers to what other states call “child custody.” In other words, conservatorship deals with the question of how parents who are no longer married should exercise their rights and responsibilities to their child(ren). There are three types of conservatorships in Texas:


● Joint Managing Conservatorship: both parents share decision-making about the child. ● Sole Managing Conservatorship: one parent has the exclusive right to make decisions about the child. ● Possessory Conservatorship: If one parent is named sole managing conservator, the other parent is a possessory conservator. The possessory conservator has visitation rights but no decision-making rights.


Guardianships in Texas can refer to the care of either a minor child or incapacitated adult. There are two types of guardianships in Texas:


● Guardianship of the Person: A guardian of the person is responsible for decisions about healthcare provisions and living arrangements of the minor child or incapacitated adult. ● Guardianship of the Estate: A guardian of the estate is responsible for decisions about the property and financial affairs of the minor child or incapacitated adult.