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How guardianships and conservatorships differ in Maryland

On Behalf of | Nov 7, 2023 | Estate Planning - Guardianships & Conservatorships

Guardianships and conservatorships are legal mechanisms in Maryland that help protect the rights and interests of individuals who are unable to make decisions for themselves.

There are many different reasons you or someone you love may need a conservatorship or guardianship. However, it is important to distinguish between these two concepts, as they serve different purposes and responsibilities.


A guardianship is a legal arrangement that grants an individual or entity the authority to make personal decisions on behalf of someone who is incapable of doing so. In Maryland, guardianships seek to protect and support individuals who are unable to care for their personal needs. Guardians may make decisions related to healthcare, living arrangements and general welfare.

The court appoints guardians based on the best interests of the incapacitated person. Guardians also have an obligation to provide regular reports to the court. These reports must detail the care and decisions made on behalf of the incapacitated person.


A conservatorship is a legal arrangement that grants someone the authority to manage the financial affairs and assets of someone else. Conservators in Maryland oversee and make financial decisions for the protected person. In doing so, they help ensure that their assets and financial well-being stay intact. According to CNN, about 1.3 million Americans live under conservatorships.

The appointment of conservators occurs through a court process.  The court has to assess the financial needs and capabilities of the protected person. Conservators also must submit financial reports to the court. These reports must demonstrate responsible management of the individual’s assets and funds.

Understanding the distinctions between guardianships and conservatorships helps ensure that an individual receives the appropriate level of support and guidance. The ultimate goal of these arrangements is to help safeguard the well-being and interests of those who are vulnerable and in need of assistance.