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If you are considering applying for a guardian to take care of your disabled relative, you might have heard a number of different terms for a guardian. You have been told various words like “conservator” and “personal guardian,” but you do not know what they mean. Are they all terms for a guardian, or are they different roles completely? Fortunately, they are not hard to understand. These terms all refer to various types of guardians under Kentucky law.

The reason Kentucky law provides for different guardians is because disabled persons possess varying degrees of competence. Some individuals cannot care for themselves at all. Others may suffer from an impaired ability to make financial decisions but are not hindered from physically caring for themselves. Depending on their level of competence, a court will assign a guardian that only handles matters that the disabled person, or ward, is incapable of taking care of.

Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services spells out the differing classifications of guardianship. Only a person that is found completely disabled will require the services of a full guardianship/full conservator. Under this kind of guardianship, the disabled person loses all financial and personal rights except for the right to cast a ballot in an election. However, even this right may be revoked by a judge.

If a person is not deemed fully disabled, Kentucky will choose a specific type of guardian that will take over certain duties depending on the ward’s competence. If a person is physically disabled but still mentally alert enough to handle financial matters, a court will appoint a personal guardian. Conversely, conservators are appointed to take care of wards that cannot make sound financial decisions but are still able to take care of physical needs.

Some disabilities are slight enough that a person could handle financial matters but only with the assistance of another person. In such cases, a court will appoint a limited conservator to help in managing financial affairs. Similarly, when a person can handle some personal matters but cannot manage others without help, a court will appoint a limited guardian for that person.

Note that this article is written solely to educate readers on Kentucky’s guardianship laws and does not offer the reader any legal advice.