A conservatorship is a legal arrangement that provides care and protection for a person who is unable to make basic decisions about their health and/or their finances. A conservator is the individual who looks after the person who needs help and that person is called the conservatee. People who are elderly or disabled are the typical candidates that need to be looked after in a conservatorship.
While a family member may informally step in and help take care of their elderly mother or father, a conservatorship must be approved in court by a judge. The conservator is given the legal authority and responsibility by the court. Conservators can be family members, friends or other individuals or organizations approved by the court.
Conservator of the Person
In this role, you are responsible for the health and welfare of the conservatee. Typically, your duties include deciding where the individual should live, their healthcare and their day-to-day living needs. Among the things that a conservator of the person may do are help keep the house clean, prepare meals, provide transportation and anything else that can enhance the conservatee’s quality of life.
Conservator of the Estate
As the conservator of the estate, your duties and responsibilities are to look after the financial affairs of the conservatee. Often times, elderly or disabled people can have a difficult time managing their finances. You will first need to do an assessment of the individual’s estate, including both real and personal property.
If an individual owns a home, you will need to make sure that the mortgage and monthly utility bills are paid on time. You have a duty to protect and invest any money the individual may have or receive as income. You should keep meticulous records of how the money is spent or invested and be able to produce reports of your financial actions to the court or other interested parties.
Types of Conservatorships
- General – Court allows you the broadest scope for looking after the conservatee’s needs
- Limited – Court specifies what you can and can not control. A limited conservatorship applies for the care of adults with developmental disabilities, who need assistance, but are not completely dependent on others.
- Temporary – Court gives limited power and control on a temporary basis, often until a permanent conservator can be found.
Planning in Advance
Advanced directives, wills and trusts, are sometimes a viable alternative for individuals capable of making their own free choice of how they want to be treated should they become elderly or disabled and unable to manage their own affairs. The Law Office of Michael R. Weinstein can handle estate planning in anticipation of future events or represent you should a conservatorship need to be established.