When is Guardianship Necessary?
Our office often receives inquiries from clients asking "When is a guardianship (or conservatorship) really necessary?" The short answer is that a guardianship and conservatorship is necessary whenever a person has become incapacitated.
New Mexico guardianship law defines an incapacitated person as one "who demonstrates, over time, either partial or complete functional impairment by reason of mental illness, mental deficiency, physical illness or disability, chronic use of drugs, chronic intoxication or other cause, except minority, to the extent that he or she is unable to manage personal affairs or is unable to manage estate or financial affairs or both."
As a practical matter, such incapacity typically comes later in life in the form of Alzheimer's or other neurological dementia, and is usually characterized by a gradual, long-term decline in memory and cognitive functioning. Common symptoms include disorientation (both as to time and location), mood swings, and an inability to manage one's self-care. Often, a clear and demonstrated inability to handle finances by the capacitated person is present as well.