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When Maryland residents think of appointing a guardian, they may only consider such a need as pertaining to young children. However, a guardianship could also affect older individuals if they were to become incapacitated and unable to make decisions for themselves. In such a situation, a guardian and/or conservator could potentially be appointed by the court in order to make decisions for the incapacitated party unless other arrangements had been made.

A guardian is someone who is typically in charge of making personal decisions for another individual. These decisions could range from determining where the person will live to how health care aspects should be handled. If a person has not already been appointed or the appointed individual has been deemed unfit, the court may decide who should take on such responsibilities.

Similarly, a conservator could also be appointed. This individual would be in charge of making financial decisions for the incapacitated person. Bank accounts and related assets would fall under the appointed party's responsibility as would making sure that bills were paid and income and expenses were managed properly. 

Because the appointed individuals would be handling sensitive aspects of a person's life, it is likely that the person would want to have some say in who should be appointed. In order to avoid a potential court appointment, Maryland residents may wish to ensure that they address such issues in their estate plans. Guardianship and conservatorship designations can be made through power of attorney documents. By planning early, individuals can think about their decisions and then appoint parties who they feel would best handle the roles before the need arises.

Source: fool.com, "What Is the Difference Between Conservatorship and Guardianship?", March 18, 2016

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