Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is probate conservatorship?
A probate conservatorship is a judicial procedure in which someone (a conservator) is appointed to manage another person’s (the conservatee’s) financial and/or personal affairs. The establishment of a conservatorship restricts the conservatee’s powers over financial and personal care decisions. TOP

Q. When is a conservatorship needed?
A conservatorship may be needed when someone is incompetent to manage his or her own financial affairs and/or personal care, and has no viable alternative method of delegating these duties to another. TOP

Q. What is a conservator of the person?
A conservator of the person is responsible for making decisions about personal matters for the conservatee, including decisions about medical care, food, clothing, and residence. Under a probate conservatorship, the conservator may not place the conservatee into a mental institution against his or her will. TOP

Q. What is a conservator of the estate?
A conservator of the estate is responsible for handling the financial affairs of the conservatee, he conservator has the power to collect all the conservatee’s assets, pay bills, make investments, etc. However, the conservator must seek court supervision for major transactions, such as the purchase or sale of real property, borrowing money and gifting of assets. TOP

Q. How is conservatorship established?
A relative, friend or a public official may petition the court for the appointment of a conservator of an individual. The petition must contain facts establishing why the individual cannot manage his financial affairs and/or make decisions concerning his personal care.

Once a petition is filed with the court, a court investigator is appointed to interview the proposed conservatee. The investigator reports back to the court with and opinion on whether or not the appointment of a conservator is justified.

The petition is ser for hearing and the conservatee must appear in court unless medically unable to do so. The judge determines, based on the petition, the investigator’s report, and any evidence taken during the hearing, whether or not the conservatorship is required and what types of special powers may be granted to the conservator. TOP

Q. What are the disadvantages of a conservatorship?
Because a conservatorship is a court supervised proceeding, there may be substantial costs in establishing it, such as court filing fees, legal fees, investigator’s fees and the conservator’s fees. In addition, a conservatoship is a public proceeding and the conservatee’s assets, income and expenses become a matter of public record. TOP

Q. What are the advantages of a conservatorship?
While the court supervision makes a conservatorship more costly and time consuming than other methods of management, it offers a higher degree of protection to the conservatee than other management mechanisms. The conservator must file an inventory which list all the property of the conservatee and must file accountings with the court that reflect all transactions involving the conservatee’s assets.

A conservatorship allows for the management of an incapacitated person’s affairs when he or she does not have an alternative mechanism in place to do so.

Another advantage to a conservatorship proceeding is that it provides a method to assist an incapacitated individual who may be unwilling to accept such assistance. TOP

Q. Do I need a conservatorship to place my relative in a nursing home?
It depends. If a person does not object to going into a nursing home, a relative may sing the admission agreement as an agent or as a “responsible party” to place a person in the nursing home. That person can only make medical care decisions on behalf of the individual if he or she has the authority to do so as an agent under a durable power of attorney for health cares or as a court-appointed conservator. However, if a person objects or is unwilling to go to a nursing home, a conservatorship is required. TOP

Q. What is an LPS (LAterman-Petris-Short Act) conservatorship?
An LPS conservatorship is a court proceeding in which a conservator is appointed for a person who has been found to be “gravely disabled” and can be used to involuntarily commit an individual to a mental institution. It is designed for persons with serious mental disorders, or who are impaired by chronic alcoholism and are a danger to themselves or others. An LPS conservatorship, different from a probate conservatorship, must be initiated by the county government-a spouse or other relative cannot petitions an LPS conservatorship. TOP

 

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