Similar to a guardianship, a conservatorship proceeding is the process in which the court appoints a conservator for a person (typically a minor, disabled, or elderly person) who requires assistance with the management of their financial affairs or with respect to assets they currently own or are expected to receive (for instance settlement proceeds, governmental income or an inheritance), when powers of attorney are not effective. Unlike a guardianship, a conservatorship appointment does not necessitate a finding that the person requiring assistance is legally incapacitated, but rather, a showing that such person (referred to as the Protected Person upon the appointment of a conservator) is unable to manage property and business affairs because they are unable to effectively receive and evaluate information or both or to make or communicate decisions even with the use of appropriate and reasonable available technological assistance due to a disability or impairment. Upon appointment, the court-appointed conservator is legally authorized to manage the income and assets of the Protected Person.
Examples of situations in which a conservator may be required include:
- the need to manage the assets/financial affairs of a parent or relative who has Alzheimer’s, Dementia or other cognitive disability;
- the need to resolve family disputes over the management of assets/financial affairs of a parent or relative with diminished capacity;
- the need to manage finances/assets received by a minor as a result of an inheritance or personal injury settlement; and
- the need to manage the governmental income of a disabled adult child.
Like the guardianship process, a conservatorship requires the filing of court documents, the investigation by a Court Visitor who reports to the court regarding the need for a conservator and appropriateness of the nominated conservator, attendance and presentation of evidence at a court hearing for which proper notice has been provided, and the post-appointment filing of court documents and annual conservatorship reports. As a part of a conservator’s annual reporting duties, a conservator is required to file annual accountings with the court indicating how the conservatorship assets were spent.
As with a guardianship, given the complicated and emotional process related to a conservatorship proceeding, children and other relatives of the protected person, and especially those living out of state, frequently require legal advice about their legal rights and obligations with respect to such matters. In specific, family members and in particular those who are petitioning the court for a conservatorship on behalf of a loved one, often require assistance with respect to setting forth their position regarding the need for the appointment of a conservator, who the appointed conservator should be, and the development of a financial plan for the management of the protected person’s assets, especially when a conservatorship matter becomes adversarial due to family conflicts.
Golombek Law, LLC has extensive experience handling conservatorship proceedings and contested conservatorship proceedings and in particular:
- Representing family members or other interested persons in petitioning the court for a conservatorship on behalf of their relative;
- Representing family members or other interested persons in objecting to or setting forth their position with respect to a conservatorship proceeding and supporting them tvhrough mediation in an effort to resolve conservatorship disputes;
- Advocating for a person over whom a conservatorship proceeding has been initiated in expressing his/her wishes with respect to the conservatorship proceeding; and
- Representing a court-appointed conservator with respect to a conservatorship proceeding.