Guardians and conservators are both, generally speaking, types of custodians under Minnesota law. However, the general idea of caring for someone is more or less where the similarity ends.
As detailed by the Minnesota Conference of Chief Judges, the basic difference between guardianship and conservatorship is that guardians perform personal or healthcare decisions while conservators handle finances. Please read on for a brief discussion of both of these in more detail.
You may want to establish a guardianship if you need to make medical decisions for another party. As a legal parent, you are probably already the guardian of your children in this sense. However, the reverse is not necessarily true. To make decisions about your parents' healthcare, a guardianship may be necessary, for example.
A conservatorship could grant you the right to make financial decisions for someone else. You may need to manage a relative's inheritance until he or she came of age, for example.
These have the potential to be useful tools at any stage of life. However, making decisions for another person often involves agreed to the responsibility. The process for obtaining that power tends to be strictly controlled.
There are also many other things to consider related to this topic. In some cases, you may want to establish guardianship and conservatorship at the same time. You may also want to provide terms in your estate plan that designate guardians or conservators.
Whatever type of situation you face, it is likely that guardianships and similar legal topics carry a degree of emotional weight. The choices you make may affect you greatly and even have consequences for your loved ones. Therefore, please do not use this article as legal advice. It is basic information not pursuant to any material circumstance.