Serving as Guardian or Conservator

The Oregon Statute, ORS 125, outlines the duties and responsibilities for guardians and conservators.  The court makes the determination about who will be appointed.

Guardians and Conservators may be family members, friends, qualified professionals – including non-profit agencies or public programs. In many instances, it is appropriate to have caring family members serve. However, there are situations where that is either not possible or not a workable solution.

Some people do not have family members; others may have family members who are not in close proximity, making it difficult or impossible to make the day-to-day decisions required of a fiduciary. Sometimes it is difficult for family members to take the actions necessary to stabilize a complex situation, or doing so would place a family member in the position of making decisions that are unpopular with the protected person.

Sometimes it helps preserve good family relationships to allow an independent professional to serve in the guardian or conservator role.  Professionals bring experience in addressing complex or adversarial situations.  Here are the qualifications of a professional:

Professional guardian:  Most professional guardians have a significant human services work history that familiarizes them with medical care and issues, case management, the social services system, and federal/state income and assistance programs. Some obtain this experience by working for or with an practicing guardian before considering an independent practice.  Many professional guardians have an undergraduate or graduate degree in a social service or a medical field or may be an attorney.

Professional conservator:  Most professional conservators have work experience in fiscal management. Some are CPAs or have a combination of social services and accounting or asset management experience. Conservators should be knowledgeable about public benefit programs, tax law, asset management, accounting systems, life and health insurance, real estate property management, personal property management and more, within a case management/client service context. Many conservators have an undergraduate or graduate degree in a related field of study or other licensing related to finance.