What is a conservatorship?

On Behalf of | Oct 6, 2023 | elder law

Watching your parents grow older can be difficult. They may develop medical problems, have trouble remembering things or become less able to manage their affairs. This is often an emotional and complicated time for families as they wonder what comes next.

The time may come for you to start exploring your legal options if a parent is declared incapacitated or incompetent, such as if they are diagnosed with dementia. One option is a conservatorship.

A conservator manages financial and personal affairs

A conservatorship is a legal status involving a court appointing a person to manage the financial and personal affairs of an incapacitated individual, known as the conservatee. A conservator makes sure that the bills are paid, and financial affairs remain in order.

A conservatorship is not the same as a guardianship. A guardian typically manages the physical and medical care of the incapacitated individual, while a conservator handles the financial decisions. However, the same person can usually serve as both a guardian and a conservator.

There are two types of conservatorships: general and limited. A general conservatorship allows the conservator to make all or most of the financial decisions for the conservatee, while a limited conservatorship only grants the conservator decision-making power over certain financial affairs.

Responsibilities of a conservator

Conservators must file an inventory of the conservatee’s assets and provide accountings to the court of financial transactions that are made. This can provide a sense of stability and protect the conservatee’s interests.

Before you file for a conservatorship, there are some downsides to consider. Information about the conservatorship is a matter of public record and the conservatee may not want these details made public. The conservatee might also not want to give up their ability to make their own decisions.

As with many court procedures, petitioning for and obtaining a conservatorship can be a lengthy and costly process. You should have your situation evaluated to decide which legal option makes the most sense.