For many reasons, families or individuals may find themselves in a situation where they need to create a conservatorship for a loved one. Generally, conservatorships are established for people who have become incapacitated from a serious illness or injury and have not already planned for the future. Here’s a complete guide to everything you need to know before seeking a conservatorship.
What Is A Conservatorship?
Essentially, a conservatorship is a way for someone to assume legal guardianship over an adult and care for their finances, health and assets. It’s important to understand that a conservatorship is established through a court proceeding. A judge ultimately determines who should take over for the conservatee (the incapacitated person).
Under this structure, the conservator has legal authority over certain aspects of the conservatee’s life. The conservator manages specific areas assigned within the scope of the conservatorship; this can be narrow or broad. There are several different versions of a conservatorship that are used to accomplish various goals.
What’s The Difference Between A Conservatorship And Power of Attorney?
While the responsibilities of a power of attorney and conservator are similar, there are a few distinct differences. A power of attorney is a legal document that allocates the right to make certain decisions on another person’s behalf once that person becomes incapacitated. However, unlike a conservatorship, that document is executed outside of the courtroom, and is created when the person is still capable of appointing their POA and signing the document. A power of attorney is only effective while a person is alive.
A conservatorship has to be created through a formal court proceeding. A judge may remove certain rights from the conservatee and can grant them to the conservator. The purpose of a conservatorship is to protect the conservatee’s health and assets. It’s most often used in cases where the person is mentally, physically, or emotionally unable to care for themselves.
What Are The Responsibilities Of A Conservator?
There are a few options when it comes to being appointed a conservator. An individual can either be appointed conservator of a person, which means they’re responsible for the duties of the conservatee’s overall health and well-being, or they can be appointed conservator of the estate, which would include the oversight of the conservatee’s finances and assets. Another alternative would be to choose one person that would handle both roles or two people that could split up the responsibilities; one would handle the estate and the other would take care of the conservatee’s health and well-being.
Regardless, when someone (or multiple people) is being considered for a conservatorship, they should know that the role of conservator comes with a lot of responsibilities. It will be their job to make sure the conservatee’s health and assets are protected.
Can A Conservatorship End?
Ending a conservatorship is up to the court. The conservator must uphold their duties until the court issues an order to end those responsibilities. This usually happens if the conservatee dies, if they no longer need the help and guidance of the conservator, if the conservatee’s assets are used up, or if the conservator resigns or can no longer handle their responsibilities. In this situation, the conservatorship itself does not end; someone else takes over the conservator’s duties.
Do you have more questions about conservatorships?
At Marcia L. Campbell, CPA we act as trusted professional fiduciaries for many of our clients. As licensed professionals, we understand the importance of knowing that your trust, estate, or conservatorship is being managed legally, ethically, and accurately. We act as caring and objective fiduciaries and client advocates.
If you need help, please contact us by filling out our Contact Form or by giving our office a call at +1(951)686-3608.