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What is Guardianship?


Guardianship removes considerable rights, and should only be considered after alternatives have proven ineffective or unavailable.The legal processes are complicated and can lead to overstepping and family fights, and you are strongly encouraged to get expert help.

Under New Mexico Law, if a person is incapacitated and has not given power in writing to an agent (See What are The Alternatives to Guardianship), a court can appoint a guardian over the person and a conservator over financial matters.  A guardian can then make residential placement and health care decisions and a conservator can make financial decisions.  A court can also appoint a temporary guardian or conservator if needed to prevent immediate and irrevocable serious harm.  A court can also limit the powers of the guardian and conservator depending on the person’s capacity and needs.  Two other people involved in the court process are a visitor and guardian ad litem.  A visitor is usually a social worker who gives the court an objective report on the person’s situation.  A guardian ad litem (GAL) is an attorney appointed to represent the incapacitated person.   The GAL reports to the court as to what are the best interests of the person.