Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Conservatorships

A conservatorship is a court proceeding to appoint a manager for the financial affairs and/or the personal care of one who is either physically or mentally unable to handle either or both. The person who cannot care for him or herself is called the conservatee. A person or organization the judge chooses to do this is is known as the conservator. A conservator can be a family member, friend or professional person.

A conservatorship ends when the conservatee dies, the conservatorship estate runs out of money, or the conservatee regains the ability to handle his or her own personal/financial affairs.

There are two types of conservatorships:

  • A Limited Probate Conservatorship applies when the person is developmentally disabled. In this type of conservatorship, the powers of the conservator are limited so that the disabled person may live as independently as possible.
  • A General Probate Conservatorship is for all other adults who are unable to provide for their personal needs due to physical injury, advanced age, dementia, or other conditions rendering them incapable of caring for themselves or making them subject to undue influence.

On occasion, a temporary conservatorship may be appropriate if there is an immediate emergency that requires an immediate appointment. A petition for temporary conservatorship can be filed at the same time as the petition for limited or general conservatorship or at some time later, when a need arises. A Petition for Appointment of a Temporary Conservator should have all information supporting the need for emergency orders, including copies of all relevant medical, police, or Adult Protective Services reports.

Forms needed to apply for appointment of conservator are:

Once the Petition for Conservatorship has been filed, the clerk will set the matter for hearing. The hearing will generally be set 45 days from the date of filing.

Court Investigators are assigned to interview all persons who are the subject of a petition for conservatorship before the first hearing is held. The purpose of the interview is to determine if the person understands the proceedings or has any objections to it. After an appointment has been made, Court Investigators periodically interview both the conservator and the conservatee and report to the court about the well-being of the conservatee and whether the conservatee's estate is being properly cared for. Investigators are also assigned to examine cases that are guardianships of the estate only. Investigators review the accountings submitted annually by the conservator.

When the court chooses you as the conservator of a person, this means you:

  • Arrange for the conservatee's care and protection;
  • Decide where the conservatee will live; and
  • Are in charge of the following:
    • Health care
    • Food
    • Clothes
    • Personal care
    • Housekeeping
    • Transportation
    • Recreation

When the court chooses you to be the conservator of an estate, you will:

  • Manage the conservatee's finances;
  • Protect the conservatee's income and property;
  • Make a list of everything in the estate;
  • Make a plan to make sure the conservatee's needs are met;
  • Make sure the conservatee's bills are paid;
  • Invest the conservatee's money;
  • Make sure the conservatee gets all the benefits he or she is eligible for;
  • Make sure the conservatee's taxes are filed and paid on time;
  • Keep exact financial records; and
  • Make regular reports of the financial accounts to the court and other interested persons.

More information on becoming a conservator - external link.