Resolving Conflicts with Family Members and Others

Resolving differences of opinion can be an opportunity to reflect on whether the decision you are making is the right decision. Considering the observations and advice of professionals, family members and other interested persons is often helpful, even if that input leads to conclusions different from your own. But after considering that input, you are responsible for the decision.

If someone does not recognize your authority to make decisions for the protected person — it might be a family member, doctor or financial adviser continuing to argue for a course of action that you have decided against — you should assert yourself, reminding them that the court has appointed you and that by law you are the person responsible for these decisions. If the conflict continues, you should seek legal advice, and you may need to ask the court for directions. For help finding legal advice, see our page on Finding Legal Help. For more information about asking the court for instructions, see our page on Proceedings After the Appointment of a Guardian or Conservator. When the situation is serious, it is important to seek help quickly.

Healthcare providers may be caught in the middle if you decide on one treatment and someone (the protected person's family, partner or friend) wants something different. Being an advocate can be difficult, especially when others object to the decisions you are making. Communication is essential. Talking about difficult topics with family members, healthcare providers, and others who are involved should help everyone focus on the protected person's needs, values and preferences.

Conflicts may arise about the cost of the protected person's care or about how you are managing the protected person's estate. No one but the protected person has a right to the protected person's money and property during his or her lifetime. If anyone expresses concern about the cost of care or how you are managing the estate, consider their comments in light of what the protected person can afford and decisions that the protected person would make, but remember that you should manage the protected person's care for the protected person's benefit, not preserve the estate for others to inherit.

Mediation may be a good way to settle conflicts. For more information, see our page on Mediation.

Conflicts may arise with the protected person who has enough capacity to express a preference. Even a guardian or conservator with full authority should consult with the protected person, encourage him or her to participate in the decision making process, to make suggestions, and to express concerns, values and preferences. If the protected person's wishes will not cause harm, you should do as the protected person requests. You may gain the protected person's trust by explaining what you are doing and why. By discussing with the protected person what is going on, you will make the protected person feel included.

If there is a dispute that cannot be resolved regarding the your management of the guardianship or conservatorship, you can file a motion asking the court to review your actions. See our webpage: Motion to Review, Terminate, or Remove Guardianship or Conservator.

If you feel the protected person would better accept the authority of someone else, you can ask the judge to let you resign and to appoint someone else. For more information see our page on Resignation or Removal of a Guardian or Conservator.