Understanding Guardianships and Conservatorships in Oregon

Posted on behalf of RizkLaw on Jun 12, 2023 in Personal Injury

Personal injury lawyers often encounter cases where their clients are unable to make important decisions about their own care and finances due to physical or mental incapacities. In such situations, guardianships and conservatorships may be necessary to protect the interests of the individual in question.

If someone you care about is facing incapacitation and you are considering seeking guardianship or conservatorship in Oregon, it is important to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer. A Rizk Law attorney can help guide you through the legal process and protect the interests of the incapacitated individual.

How Do Guardianships Work in Oregon?

A guardianship is a legal arrangement in which a person is appointed by the court to act as a guardian and make decisions on behalf of an incapacitated individual (also known as the ward) who cannot make decisions for themselves. Guardianships are typically sought in cases involving minors, individuals with disabilities, or elderly individuals who have dementia or other conditions that impair their decision-making abilities.

In Oregon, the process of obtaining guardianship involves filing a petition with the court, providing notice to all interested parties, and attending a court hearing. At the hearing, the court will evaluate the evidence presented and determine whether guardianship is necessary and, if so, who should serve as the guardian. Once a guardianship is established, the guardian will be responsible for making decisions related to the ward’s medical care, housing, and other personal matters.

What Is a Conservatorship in Oregon?

A conservatorship is a legal arrangement in which a person (the conservator) is appointed by the court to manage the finances and property of an incapacitated individual (the protected person) who is unable to manage their own affairs. Conservatorships are typically sought in cases where the protected person has significant assets or income that need to be managed or protected.

In Oregon, the process of obtaining a conservatorship is similar to that of obtaining a guardianship. A petition must be filed with the court, notice must be provided to all interested parties, and a court hearing must be held to determine whether a conservatorship is necessary and, if so, who should serve as the conservator. Once a conservatorship is established, the conservator will be responsible for managing the protected person’s finances, paying bills, and making investment decisions on their behalf.

What to Know About Guardianships and Conservatorships Involving Children

In cases where a child is injured due to the negligence of another person, the child may have a valid injury claim. However, Oregon and Washington laws consider children to be “disabled” in a legal sense, which means special rules apply to pursue such claims. In Oregon, a conservator must be appointed, either by a responsible adult or through a court petition, to act in the best interest of the child, manage any recovery funds, and obtain court approval for any settlement. In Washington, the responsible parent must petition the court for the appointment of a guardian ad litem, who will evaluate the settlement’s terms and report to the court on whether it is in the child’s best interest.

Structured settlements are often used to manage the funds for the child’s best interest, typically through an annuity that provides periodic payments over time. These payments are often deferred until the child reaches adulthood, and the earnings on the annuity may be exempt from income tax.

These laws aim to prevent the misuse of funds for injured children, as, unfortunately, some conservators or parents have taken advantage of settlements and recoveries meant for the child’s benefit. A child injury attorney can work with the responsible parent or individual to establish a conservatorship, appoint a guardian ad litem if necessary, and work with a reputable structured settlement broker to ensure the annuity is in the child’s best interest. In cases where the parent may not be the best choice for a guardian, a professional fiduciary may be considered to handle the child’s legal and financial affairs.

Explore Guardianships and Conservatorships With an Oregon Personal Injury Attorney

It is important to note that guardianships and conservatorships are serious legal arrangements that can significantly impact the lives of the individuals involved. The court will carefully evaluate the evidence presented and make decisions based on the best interests of the incapacitated individual. In some cases, the court may appoint a professional guardian or conservator to serve in these roles rather than a family member or friend.

A Rizk Law personal injury lawyer can help you explore your options and choose the best approach for your particular situation. Call (503) 245-5677 or contact us online to begin discussing your legal options with our team today.