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Glossary of Guardianship & Conservatorship Terms

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Annual Report - Conservator Every year until the conservatorship is terminated, the conservator must file a Conservator's Annual Report, PG-225 [Fill-In PDF] that describes what has happened to the protected person and their income and assets in the past 12 months.
Annual Report - Guardian Every year until the guardianship is terminated, the guardian must file an Annual Report that describes what has happened to the ward and their income and assets in the past 12 months. There are different annual report forms for an adult or a minor guardianship report: Guardianship Annual Report, PG-210 [Fill-In PDF] (use for an adult), Annual Report on Guardianship of a Minor PG-640 Adobe Acrobat PDF logo.

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Bond A cash payment or pledge of property that guarantees that a conservator or guardian will fulfill his or her duties.

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Conservator A person or institution who the court appoints to handle the financial affairs for another person. The conservator collects and deposits all income, pays all debts and bills, secures all assets, and handles taxes and insurance. In 2004, the law changed so that a full guardian of an adult automatically has the powers of a conservator. Before 2004, it was necessary to get two appointments, one for a guardian and one for a conservatorship. While a person appointed as guardian may also be appointed as conservator, a separate conservator can be appointed. Compare with guardian.
Conservatorship A legal arrangement where the court appoints a person or institution to handle the financial affairs for another person because that person cannot handle these matters
Conservatorship Implementation Report and Inventory This is the first report the conservator files with the court. Within 90 days from the date the court distributes the conservator’s appointment order, the conservator must file the Conservator Implementation Report and Inventory, PG-220 [Fill-In PDF]. This report should give the court as complete a picture as possible of the ward’s current situation and a complete inventory of the estate, including the assets and debts. It also describes the services the conservator plans to provide to the ward.

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Delegation of Powers A parent can give someone powers regarding a child’s care, custody or property for up to one year. You can specify what powers the person has regarding the child. You cannot delegate the power to consent to the child’s marriage or to the child being adopted. The parent can revoke the delegation of powers at any time. The parent delegating the power cannot affect the rights of the non-signing parent and does not create a guardianship. You do not go to court for a power of attorney.

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Final Conservatorship Report When the conservatorship ends, the conservator must file the Final Conservatorship Report, PG-230 [Fill-In PDF].
Final Guardianship Report When the guardianship ends, the guardian must file the Final Guardianship Report, PG-215 [Fill-In PDF].
Full Guardian A full guardian is appointed to have total decision-making responsibilities for medical, housing, services, legal, and financial areas (if a separate conservator has not been appointed) for another person called the ward.

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Guardian A person who the court appoints to protect the rights and manage the affairs of an incapacitated person or a minor. Children usually only have guardians when neither of their parents are willing or able to care for them. There are guardians with different powers: full guardian, partial or limited guardian, temporary guardian. Compare with conservator.
Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) A person appointed by the court to protect the rights of the respondent during the guardianship proceedings. The respondent can ask the court to appoint a "guardian ad litem" if the respondent cannot determine his/her own best interests without assistance (because his/her ability to understand the guardianship proceedings or make decisions about them is impaired). If appointed, the guardian ad litem will help the respondent determine what is best for respondent in this legal case. If respondent is entirely incapable of making that determination, the guardian ad litem will make it. The Office of Public Advocacy will provide this service at state expense if the court determines that respondent cannot afford it.
Guardian by Testamentary Appointment Guardian who is appointed by a will. An example would be when a parent / guardian of a developmentally disabled child indicates in his or her will who would be the child's successor guardian. The successor guardian needs to request a Probate Court hearing to get signed Orders. See the Guardianship Packet for Guardian of Minor Appointed by Will, PG-650. Read the Instructions for Accepting Guardianship Appointment Made in a Will, PG-651 Adobe Acrobat PDF logo.
Guardianship A legal arrangement where the court appoints a person or institution as a guardian to make decisions for an incapacitated person, and/or a child -- decisions about housing, medical care, legal issues, financial issues and services. The individual being cared for in the guardianship is called the “ward.”
Guardianship Implementation Report and Inventory of the Estate This is the second required document the guardian must file with the court. Within 90 days from the date the court distributes the Guardianship Order, the guardian must file the Guardianship Implementation Report and Inventory, PG-205 [Fill-In PDF]. This report should give the court as complete a picture as possible of the ward’s current situation and what the guardian is going to do to implement the Guardianship Plan.
Guardianship Order This is the court’s order that names the guardian, includes specific findings that supports each grant of authority to the guardian. The order adopts a guardianship plan that states the guardian’s authority to make decisions for the ward regarding several specific areas, including medical care, mental health treatment, housing, finances, education or vocational training. The Order will state the length of the guardianship.
Guardianship Plan This is the first document the guardian is required to file with the court. Within 30 days from the date the court distributes the Guardianship Order, the guardian must file the Guardianship Plan, PG-401 [Fill-In PDF]. The plan states the guardian’s authority to make decisions for the ward regarding several specific areas, including medical care, mental health treatment, housing, finances, education or vocational training.

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Incapacitated Person A person whose ability to receive and evaluate information or to communicate decisions is impaired so that the person cannot provide for their physical health or safety without court-ordered help. Not providing for someone’s own physical health or safety, includes health care, food, shelter, clothing, personal hygiene, and protection. Before appointing a guardian for a ward, the court must find that the ward is an “incapacitated person.”
Indian Child

The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) is a federal law that establishes special procedures whenever the court is deciding placement of an Indian child. The law defines an "Indian child" as any unmarried person who is under the age of 18 and who either is a member of an Indian tribe or Alaska Native village, or is eligible for membership in an Indian tribe or Alaska Native village.

There are over 200 Alaska tribes, mostly Native villages. If the minor child or any of the minor’s parents or grandparents was born in a village, the minor might qualify for tribal membership. Ask the child, the parents, and (if necessary) other relatives about this. If you need help determining whether a child qualifies as an "Indian child" under ICWA, you may be able to get help from the tribe you think the child might belong to.

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Letters of Conservatorship Document from the court that states what are the conservator’s powers and whether there are any specific limitations. The conservator presents the Letters when needed to show what their powers are, such as when dealing with financial issues.
Letters of Guardianship Document from the court that states what are the guardian’s powers and whether there are any specific limitations. The guardian presents the Letters when needed to show what their powers are, such as when dealing with financial issues or medical providers.

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Mediation Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process in which a neutral third-party facilitator (the mediator) helps people discuss difficult issues and negotiate an agreement. People in mediation create their own solutions and the mediator does not have any decision-making power over the outcome. Mediators often are attorneys or mental health professionals.

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Office of Public Advocacy The Office of Public Advocacy (OPA) provides legal advocacy and guardianship and conservatorship services to vulnerable Alaskans. OPA provides public guardianship for incapacitated adults, advocacy for victims of elder fraud, and attorney services for respondents in adult guardianship proceedings. OPA is appointed as guardian or conservator for an individual only if a family member, friend, or private entity is not able to do so. OPA employs staff public guardians in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Palmer, and Juneau. Public guardians in these areas assist wards living in communities around the state.

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Partial or Limited Guardian A person who the court appoints as guardian whose rights, powers, and duties are less than full guardianship and are specified by court order. In these situations, the person under the partial guardianship is able to perform some, but not all of the functions necessary to care for himself/herself and alternatives to guardianship cannot provide for the person’s needs.
Personal Representative The person appointed by the court to handle the entire probate process after someone dies, also called an executor. For more information, see the Self-Help Probate Estate website section, Personal Representative.
Petition The document you file that asks the court to appoint a guardian in a guardianship case or a conservator in a conservatorship case.
Petitioner The petitioner is the person who signs the document called a petition for guardianship or conservatorship that asks the court to appoint a guardian or conservator.
Power of Attorney A document in which you choose to give another person (your agent) the right to make specific decisions for you. You can grant your agent broad powers to do almost anything you could do for yourself (general power of attorney) or you can choose the powers you want to give an agent (specific power of attorney). You can choose to appoint an agent immediately or you can make the appointment effective only if you become disabled. You can limit the time your agent will have power to act on your behalf or you can make the appointment “durable,” which means your agent will have powers even if you become disabled. You can also state that the appointment will be revoked upon your incapacity. There is no court oversight over the power of attorney.
Private Professional Guardian or Conservator Persons (including companies and other organizations) who engage in the business of providing guardian or conservator services and must be licensed by the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development. They charge fees for their services, usually on an hourly basis.
Protected Person A person for whom the court has appointed a conservator because the person cannot manage their money or property due to a disability, advanced age or illness.
Pubic Guardian A public guardian is a state employee who the court can appoint as guardian or conservator if no private person or agency is able or available to be the guardian or conservator. The Office of Public Advocacy (OPA) provides public guardian services and charges on a sliding scale basis.

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Representative Payee A representative payee is an individual or organization that receives Social Security and/or SSI payments for someone who cannot manage his/her money. Payees should use the funds for the current and foreseeable needs of the beneficiary and save any remaining funds for the beneficiary's future use.
Respondent In a guardianship case, the respondent is the person who is alleged to be incapacitated and in need of a guardian. (Note: After a guardian is appointed, the “respondent” is called a “ward.”) In a conservatorship case, the respondent is the person who is alleged to need a conservator to help manage money and property. (Note: After a conservator is appointed, the “respondent” is called a “protected person.”)

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Special Conservator The court can appoint someone as conservator who has only certain powers or for a limited number of transactions.

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Temporary Conservator Conservator whom the court appoints on a temporary basis because the respondent is not capable of protecting his or her funds or property against being wasted or used up, or getting funds that are needed for the immediate support, care, and welfare of the respondent or his /her dependents. If the court appoints a temporary conservator during the conservatorship case, the temporary conservatorship expires when the court appoints a full or partial conservator, or when the petition for a conservator is dismissed.
Temporary Guardian Guardian the court appoints on a temporary basis in an emergency situation for an immediate or time-limited period. An example would be an emergency appointment for an immediate life threatening medical decision or a six-month period to assist with a specific decision. Generally, a full hearing with a court visitor and a medical expert reports will happen soon after the temporary appointment.
Temporary Property Custodian After someone dies, a person who takes temporary control of tangible personal property owned by the person who died. For more information, see the Self-Help Probate Estate website section on Temporary Property Custodian.
Three-Year Review Every 3 years after the court appoints a guardian or conservator, the court appoints a “visitor” to file a report about the guardianship or conservatorship. The state pays the visitor to prepare a report after interviewing the ward or the protected person, the guardian, the conservator and others.

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Visitor The court appoints a “visitor” to arrange for necessary evaluations and prepare a written report for the court about the guardianship or conservatorship. A visitor is a person trained or experienced in law, medical care, mental health care, pastoral care, education, rehabilitation, or social work, who is an officer, employee, or special appointee of the court with no personal interest in the proceedings. After the guardianship or conservatorship petition is filed, the visitor will interview the respondent, anyone who seeks to be appointed as guardian or conservator and other people who know about the respondent’s abilities. After the court appoints a guardian or conservator, the court appoints a visitor every three years to write a report about the guardianship or conservatorship.

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Ward A ward is a person for whom the court appoints a guardian.

Rev. 6 January 2015
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