When a person can no longer take care of themselves when it comes to finances and health care, the courts will place powers and responsibilities to manage that person’s affairs in the hands of a conservator.
In some cases, an individual who is in failing health may have already signed a durable power of attorney agreement which will negate the need for a conservator. But in a vast majority of cases, family members will need to approach the courts and ask to have a guardian or a conservator appointed.
Because the duties of conservators can be time-consuming and complicated, a conservatorship attorney will be appointed. This may be the best choice in many cases, because conservators will need to attend court hearings, keep detailed records and file papers with the court on a regular basis.
An attorney makes sense as a conservator because all court documents and actions are a matter of public record. Appointing an attorney gives family members a certain amount of privacy when it comes to sensitive family matters. Also, conservators are overseen by the court and must report back periodically so the court can make sure the conservator is not taking advantage of the person they are assisting. Courts may also require a conservator to get approval from the court before making a major decision, such as selling off a piece of real estate or seeking to terminate life support.
Conservators are reimbursed for any expenses they incur, as well as being paid for the services they render. Payments come from the assets of the person they are taking care of, and must be deemed reasonable by the court.
A conservator must keep performing their duties until released by the court through an order ending their responsibilities. This will generally happen with the conservatee dies, no longer needs assistance, or if their assets have been depleted to the point they can no longer sustain the expenses associated with a conservatorship.
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