The cognitive decline that happens with Georgia residents who have dementia will likely make it a challenge for them to complete normal life activities as time goes on. As the disease progresses, it may become difficult for people with dementia to do things they once took for granted, like cooking for themselves, keeping track of medications and traveling to and from familiar locations.
The time may come when someone close to the affected person will need to take the responsibility of managing their affairs. Individuals and family members facing this situation will find it helpful to understand the difference between a guardianship and conservatorship.
The guardian of a person battling the effects of dementia takes on the responsibility for ensuring adequate living conditions and providing for the personal care of the individual they care for. Guardianship status also makes the person responsible for the financial matters that affect the life of his or her ward.
A person granted conservatorship becomes responsible for the financial decisions of a person who is unable to make these decisions on their own. Duties of a conservator include managing monthly bills, filing taxes and overseeing investments. Conservators do not possess the authority to decide on personal matters of the ward.
The trust placed in guardians and conservators makes it necessary to choose someone who will not abuse the authority given to them in any way. A person in the early stages of dementia may benefit from identifying the person they will want as a guardian or conservator long before the need for one exists. It could become necessary for the court to choose the person who takes on these responsibilities if the affected person has not done so.
It can be unsettling for any individual to consider a time when they may not be able to navigate the tasks and challenges of life on their own. But people who suffer from a condition that makes this result more likely may benefit from establishing a potential conservator or guardian in advance. Individuals or family members with concerns about dementia-related cognitive decline may benefit from speaking with an estate planning attorney.