Attorney’s Office

Frequently Asked Questions (Guardianship/Conservatorship)

  • What type of surgeries do I need to get court orders for?

    Any elective surgery or non-emergency major medical procedures. Most surgeries performed under general anesthesia require court orders. A guardian is not required to obtain a court order for dental treatment or routine physical examinations when general anesthesia is used.

  • Does the person recommended to be the guardian and/or conservator have to be a family member?

    No, in many cases the appointees are neighbors, friends, or sometimes volunteers. In some cases family members may choose not to be an appointee, the family member may be unable to serve, or no family members may exist.

  • Can you have more than one person appointed as guardian and/or conservator?

    Yes, there are several variations of appointments possible. One person may serve as guardian and a different person may serve as conservator. They will obviously have to work together as decisions sometimes overlap in areas, but many times this can be very successful.

    Another option is Co-guardians or Co-conservators who serve together. There are a few things to consider if this is your choice. Co-appointees have equal authority. If one appointee disagrees, the issue must be set down before a Judge for a ruling. Additionally, paper work may be delayed, as both signatures are always required.

    Many people appoint Co-guardians and/or Co-Conservators out of fear that something may happen to them. If that is the case, each appointee needs to determine a person to be successor if something were to happen to the appointee. The successor could then be appointed as Successor Guardian and/or Conservator relatively quickly.

  • Where do I receive the annual reports?

    If the Polk County Attorney's Office established the guardianship and/or conservatorship, they will mail a report form to the appointee. You may also contact your local Clerk of Court for forms.

  • How do I terminate a guardianship and/or conservatorship?

    Conservatorships are usually terminated when:

    • there are no resources left, or only social security left, which can be handled by an assigned representative payee, or
    • upon the ward’s death.

    Guardianships are terminated:

    • if created for a minor child that reaches the age of 18 and no longer needs one,
    • a ward has impaired abilities at the time of establishment, but now has achieved a higher level of functioning and can do things that they could not do before, or
    • upon the ward's death
  • How do I resign from serving as a guardianship and/or conservatorship?

    Once you are appointed you will have to serve until a replacement is available, or until the guardianship is terminated, as stated above. A guardianship and/or conservatorship can be a long term job.

  • If the person does not have a social worker, can the county attorney’s office still set up the guardianship and/or conservatorship?


  • Are there training classes for guardians and/or conservators?

    The Polk County Attorney's Office does provide information and limited training to groups and organizations. There is also a video that discusses guardianship and conservatorship issues and questions. It is titled "Guardianship/Conservatorship Training Video." The Young Lawyers Division of the Iowa Bar Association helped make the video possible.

Contact Us

Polk County Attorney's Office
Polk County Justice Center
222 Fifth Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50309

Phone: (515) 286-3737
Fax: (515) 286-3428