When you are putting your estate plan together, one of the advance directives you will want to create is a Designation of Conservator. It is probably something you haven’t thought about, or maybe even knew it existed! But it is really important.
What is this Designation of Conservator? It’s where you decide ahead of time who will manage your affairs – and under what certain circumstances – if you become incapacitated.
So what is a conservator?
A conservator is a person appointed by the probate court to oversee the financial and/or personal affairs of an adult who is determined by the probate court to be incapable of managing his or her affairs or unable to care for himself or herself. A conservator may also be appointed for the same purpose for a capable person who requests such assistance. There are 2 types of conservators:
- Conservator of estate, appointed to oversee the conserved person’s financial affairs,
- Conservator of person, appointed to manage his or her health care decisions, or both.
There are two types of conservatorships:
- Voluntary – A capable person may petition the court on his or her own behalf to have a conservator appointed.
- Involuntary – Any person can file an application alleging that a respondent (the proposed conserved person) is incapable of managing his or her affairs.
Some key things to remember about conservatorships:
- A conservator can only be appointed by a probate court.
- A respondent has the right to be represented by counsel.
- If a respondent does not have his or her own attorney, the probate court will appoint one at no cost.
- The filing of a conservatorship application does not provide immediate relief since it can be a long and onerous process.
Conservatorship proceedings hold an important place in our legal system, particularly when an elderly, vulnerable adult or someone with a developmental disability needs protection. But they should be used with caution, and only when truly necessary.
If you have been appointed as a conservator, need to protect a loved with a conservatorship or you need to dispute a conservatorship, give us a call. And of course, let us know if you need more help understanding if a conservatorship is right for you or a loved one.
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