Frequently Asked Questions About Conservatorships

What is a Conservatorship?

A conservatorship is a legal proceeding wherein the court grants to a person (the Conservator) the legal responsibility of managing the affairs of someone who is disabled and unable to manage their affairs (the Conservatee).

The conservator is the person to whom the court has transferred the Conservatee’s legal responsibilities. Conservators are responsible for the general welfare of the conservatee. The conservator manages the Conservatee’s assets and provides for the safety, well-being, and health of the conservatee.

Can my loved one execute a power of attorney rather than have me petition for a conservatorship?

Yes, as long as your loved one has capacity to execute a power of attorney.  If you are not sure whether your loved one has capacity to execute a power of attorney, it is wise to meet with an attorney to consult on this issue first.

How long does a conservatorship last?

A conservatorship lasts for the duration of the person’s incapacity – this may be for the duration of the person’s life.  If the person rehabilitates fully and can now manage their affairs on their own, the court may terminate the conservatorship.

How can I prepare for a conservatorship?

Petitioning for conservatorship requires careful consideration and preparation.  Consulting with an attorney may be helpful and necessary so that you are able to responsibly manage the conservatee’s needs and assets.

Preparing for conservatorship means:

  1. Understanding the needs of the proposed conservatee
  2. Partnering with a doctor to determine the conservatee’s capacity
  3. Drafting and filing the petition and preparing for the court hearing
  4. Conferring with counsel prior to accepting these new legal responsibilities so that you understand your new role
  5. Transferring assets to a conservatorship estate which will be governed by the court, and filing annual accountings with the court

What is an accounting?

As conservator, you must prepare a fiduciary accounting.  This means that you must provide a full account of all funds which you initially marshaled (received), all funds which have come in to your possession while you were acting as conservator, and those which have been disbursed from the estate you are managing.  The format is specific and you must include certain information in order for the court to approve the accounting.