It can be necessary for a family member or friend to care for an aging or disabled individual when he/she is no longer able to manage every day care and finances. If a loved one is vulnerable and steps need to be taken to ensure she/he is protected, it may be time to consider a conservatorship. In a conservatorship matter, the court appoints a responsible person (known as the conservator), who can be a family member or friend, to make decisions on behalf of an infirm adult (known as the conservatee).

When seeking a general probate conservatorship, you may petition the court to be a conservator of the person and/or the estate of the person. A conservator of the person is responsible for making decisions related to the daily care of an infirm adult, including making sure that he/she has proper food, shelter and health care. A conservator of the estate must handle the financial matters for the adult, including paying bills and managing his/her estate.

Anyone can petition the court for conservatorship, however, the court gives priority to responsible family members first, primarily the spouse, children, or parent of the conservatee. Public guardians and professional fiduciaries may also serve as conservators if necessary. An individual who serves as a conservator may be subject to compensation from the conservatee’s estate as approved by the court.

The court must determine that the conservatee is unable to care for themselves before approving a conservatorship. A court investigator/evaluator is typically appointed to look into the circumstances surrounding the matter in more detail. The court also appoints an attorney or guardian ad litem to represent the conservatee.

Many times, conservatorships are necessary to protect a loved one from fraud and undue influence. Sadly, in the United States, one out of seven individuals age 65 and older will experience some type of abuse in their latter years. Most of this abuse is financial abuse- and much of it occurs by their own family members. If you have a family member or friend who may be subject to financial abuse, it can be vital to step in and obtain a conservatorship to protect the person.

Attorney Donovan handles all types of Probate conservatorships matters, including general conservatorships for elderly individuals and limited conservatorships for developmentally disabled individuals. To find out if a conservatorship is the appropriate course of action for your situation and learn more about the process, contact Law Office of Elisabeth Donovan to speak to an experienced family law attorney.