Probate: Guardianship & Conservatorship Proceedings
If an individual becomes unable to handle his or her personal or financial affairs, it may be necessary to seek a guardianship and/or conservatorship through the Probate Court to protect the individual’s health and his or her assets.
The Probate Court handles matters related to the estates and physical care of persons that require protection on account of physical or mental illness or deterioration.
Click here for reference to the South Carolina Probate Code.
A guardianship proceeding is a formal proceeding under the South Carolina Probate Code to determine if a person is an incapacitated person, or to appoint a guardian for an incapacitated person.
The Court may appoint a conservator if an individual is substantially unable to manage property and affairs effectively, if the individual has property which will be wasted or dissipated unless proper management is provided, or if funds are needed for the support, care, and welfare of the person and protection is necessary obtain or provide funds.
If your loved one is losing capacity and there are signs, for example, giving away money to strangers or solicitors while failing to pay for utilities and ordinary bills, calling emergency services or other services repeatedly, dangerous misuse of household supplies, or repeated hospitalizations, a protective proceeding may be necessary.
Several planning tools may limit the need for a guardianship and/or conservatorship hearing:
- A living will allows a person with proper mental capacity to appoint and agent to make specific health care decisions related to relief of suffering and preservation of life in the event that death is immanent.
- A durable power of attorney allows a person with proper mental capacity to appoint an agent who may answer health care issues as they arise and is, therefore, more flexible that a living will. If you intend for a durable power of attorney to extend past health care to business decisions, the properly executed document must also be filed with the County Register of Deeds.