Conservatorship and Guardianship result from court proceedings in which the court appoints someone (a “conservator” or “guardian”) to manage another person’s financial affairs or personal care decisions. These proceedings are permitted only when a person becomes so incapacitated or impaired that he or she is unable to make financial or personal decisions and has not delegated these duties to another through a power of attorney, living trust or some other means.
Under South Dakota law, conservatorships and guardianships are used to appoint a person when an individual is unable to make personal decisions or is unable to meet his or her financial needs. The court orders the appointment of a person (a conservator or guardian) to act as a decision maker for another person (the protected person). A court must base this decision on clear and convincing evidence that the protected person has been found to be unable to make necessary decisions on his or her own behalf and the court makes a finding of incapacity or impairment. Once a court makes a finding of incapacity or impairment, the person no longer has the right to manage his or her affairs until proven capable.