Guardianship, also, referred to as conservatorship, is a legal process, utilized when a person can no longer make or communicate safe or sound decisions about his/her person and/or property or has become susceptible to fraud or undue influence. Because establishing a guardianship may remove considerable rights from an individual, it should only be considered after alternatives to guardianship have proven ineffective or are unavailable.

Neighborhood Services of Lancaster Guardianship Program provides protection services when the court determines an individual to be unable to care for self, property, or both, thus becoming a ward. Guardianship and Durable Power of Attorney are the program’s two legal disciplines. Neighborhood Services provides several types of guardianship, but  the more common types are Plenary Guardian of Person, Plenary Guardian of the Estate, or Plenary Guardian of Person and Estate. When appointed Guardian of the Person , the Case Manager is responsible for decisions of a personal nature including health care, living arrangements, social interactions,  end of life issues, etc. As Guardian of the Estate, the responsibilities revolve around property, whether it be real or personal. When appointed Guardian of the Person and Estate we perform a dual role.

Guardianship is appointed by the courts. Durable Power of Attorney is considered an advanced directive or legal document giving authority to act on one’s behalf when and if they become unable to care for self, property or both. Generally, Power of Attorney is not appointed by the court systems. Substitute judgement, a key element of the program, involves consultations with the ward or client, medical staff, care givers, family, friends, legal, financial and religious communities.