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Our Practice Areas
Conservatorships and Guardianships
Conservatorship
and Vulnerable Protection
Guardianship protection refers to the legal process of appointing a guardian to protect and make decisions on behalf of an individual who is deemed incapable of managing their own affairs due to age, illness, or disability. Conservatorship, on the other hand, involves the appointment of a conservator to manage the financial and legal matters of an individual who is unable to handle their own financial affairs due to incapacity or vulnerability.
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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Conservatorships and Guardianships in South Dakota

Conservatorships and guardianships are legal arrangements designed to provide protection and care for individuals who are unable to manage their personal, financial, or medical affairs due to incapacitation, age, or other reasons. These arrangements involve the appointment of a responsible person or entity to act on behalf of the incapacitated individual, known as the ward (in guardianships) or the protected person (in conservatorships). The specifics of conservatorships and guardianships can vary depending on jurisdiction and the needs of the incapacitated individual.

Guardianship: A guardianship is a legal arrangement where a court appoints a guardian to make decisions for an incapacitated person's personal care, health, and well-being. This may include decisions about living arrangements, medical treatment, and other day-to-day matters. Guardianships are often established for minors, individuals with developmental disabilities, or adults who are unable to make decisions for themselves due to mental or physical incapacity.

Conservatorship: A conservatorship, sometimes referred to as a guardianship of the estate, involves the appointment of a conservator to manage the financial affairs and assets of an incapacitated individual. The conservator is responsible for handling financial transactions, paying bills, managing investments, and safeguarding the individual's assets. Conservatorships are commonly established when someone becomes incapable of managing their financial matters, such as in cases of advanced age, cognitive decline, or serious illness.
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Navigating Conservatorships & Guardianships:
Establishing Them in South Dakota

In certain circumstances, individuals may find themselves in situations where they are unable to make important decisions for themselves or manage their affairs due to physical or mental incapacitation. In South Dakota, the legal mechanisms of conservatorships and guardianships provide a solution to ensure the well-being and interests of such individuals are protected. This blog will guide you through the process of establishing conservatorships and guardianships in South Dakota, shedding light on the legal steps and considerations involved.

The Process of Establishing Conservatorships and Guardianships in South Dakota


1. Petition Filing: The process typically begins with filing a petition with the court in the county where the incapacitated person resides. The petitioner, often a family member or concerned individual, requests the appointment of a conservator or guardian.
2. Medical Evaluation: The court may require a medical evaluation to determine the extent of the person's incapacity. Medical records and assessments from medical professionals play a crucial role in this evaluation.
3. Notice: The incapacitated person and other relevant parties, such as close family members, are provided with notice of the petition. This ensures that all interested parties have an opportunity to be heard and present their views on the matter.
4. Hearing: A court hearing is scheduled where the petitioner presents evidence to support the need for a conservatorship or guardianship. The incapacitated person and other interested parties can also present their arguments during the hearing.
5. Appointment: If the court determines that a conservatorship or guardianship is necessary and in the best interest of the incapacitated person, a conservator or guardian is appointed. The court will specify the scope of their authority and responsibilities. 6. Reporting: Once appointed, conservators and guardians are required to submit regular reports to the court detailing their actions and decisions on behalf of the protected person. This transparency ensures accountability and safeguards the protected person's interests.

Important Considerations
• Least Restrictive Option: Courts in South Dakota strive to find the least restrictive option when considering conservatorships and guardianships. This means that the court will explore alternatives that allow the individual to retain as much independence as possible while still receiving necessary support.
• Best Interest: The primary consideration in establishing conservatorships and guardianships is the best interest of the incapacitated person. Courts aim to ensure that the appointed conservator or guardian acts in the protected person's welfare and does not exploit their position.

Establishing conservatorships and guardianships in South Dakota is a legal process designed to protect the well-being and interests of individuals who are unable to make decisions for themselves. While the process involves various legal steps, it ultimately serves to ensure that the protected person's financial, personal, and medical affairs are appropriately managed. If you're considering pursuing a conservatorship or guardianship, it's recommended to consult South Dakota guardianship professionals who specialize in this area to navigate the process effectively and ensure the best possible outcome for all parties involved.
AN IN-DEPTH LOOK

Denevan Falon Joyce
Experience that Matters

Return of Vulnerable Adult: Denevan Falon Joyce represented children and a spouse of a vulnerable adult who was the subject of a temporary guardianship. The individual who petitioned for temporary guardianship removed the vulnerable adult from the state. After a multi-day trial, Denevan Falon Joyce was successful in having the vulnerable adult returned to his family in South Dakota.

Advocacy for Protected Persons: Denevan Falon Joyce has assisted numerous families establish guardianships and conservatorships for the express purposes of advocating for public-benefits eligibility for the protected person.

Preserving an Estate: Denevan Falon Joyce represented a family for the establishment of a conservatorship in a contested proceeding to protect a vulnerable adult from losing a significant portion of his estate and business to fraudster creditors. The work of the firm blocked the fraudsters from gaining access to the vulnerable adult's estate.

Medical Treatment: Denevan Falon Joyce assists families to establish guardianships in an effort to establish a system of substitute decision making that hospitals and other treatment facilities can recognize and rely upon so that they can provide much needed care to the protected person.
Financial Exploitation: Denevan Falon Joyce represented a vulnerable adult from financial predators who misappropriated hundreds of thousands of dollars. Denevan Falon Joyce was able to recover most of the assets and those assets provide for quality care to the vulnerable adult to this day.

Eliminating a Fiduciary Malfeasance: Denevan Falon Joyce has represented clients in cases where bad actors influenced a vulnerable adult to become their attorneys-in-fact, with the purpose of misappropriating assets of the vulnerable adult and cutting off the vulnerable adult from family and friends. Denevan Falon Joyce was successful invalidating the durable power of attorney document and establishing a guardianship/conservatorship, appointing a new individual who was a reliable and who would be a good steward of the vulnerable adults person and estate.

Ongoing Legal Support: Denevan Falon Joyce represents guardians and conservators in contested cases where family members disagree on the treatment of the vulnerable adult or the use of the vulnerable adults estate.

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