Guardianship and Conservatorship: Reasonable Choice?

When picking a guardian or conservator, the Court must appoint the must “suitable” person. The Court must also follow a hierarchy in making its choice. At the top of this list, the Court must consider “any eligible person nominated” by the allegedly incapacitated person, provided the person can “make and communicate a reasonable choice.” Section 475.050.1, RSMo. How is a “reasonable choice” in this situation made?

Simply making a choice is not enough. Instead, the allegedly incapacitated person must at least have the “capacity to choose [his or her] conservator.” Matter of Waldron, 910 S.W.2d 837, 840 (Mo. Ct. App. 1995). So, it’s not that the person named is a reasonable choice. Rather, it is more that the respondent in the case has the ability to make such a decision. Accordingly, it is important to understand the respondent’s physical and mental condition when seeking the appointment of a guardian and conservator. That choice may be binding or disregarded.

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