Conservatorships are a hot topic these days with what is going on with the Britney Spears case. We thought it would be a good idea for you to undrestand how conservatorships work and if they are appropriate for any family members.
A conservatorship is a form of legal guardianship of an adult. Under this structure, the conservator (decision maker), has legal authority over certain aspects of the adult’s life. This can range from a limited conservatorship, which addresses only specific matters such as health or finances, to a full conservatorship, in which the conservator essentially has the same rights and responsibilities as a parent does over a child. The conservator may be a family member, a close friend or a court appointed professional. It is important to understand that a conservatorship focuses on the needs of the individual’s interests and not of the conservator. The decision maker will typically consult with doctors and social workers and will appoint a conservatorship based on what they believe will best keep the individual healthy and safe.
There are different types of conservatorships:
- Financial: Conservator has full authority over the finances of an individual. While having full physical autonomy, the individual cannot access their money, investments or most forms of property without the conservator’s signature.
- Physical: Conservator has authority over health and life of the individual. Conservator is able to choose where the individual lives, how they receive healthcare and whether they need to move to a living facility.
- General: Conservator has full authority over the finances, physical autonomy, health and all other significant decisions. It is uncommon for a court to grant a physical conservatorship without also granting financial authority as well, so this is more common than a physical conservatorship.
- Limited: Conservator has authority over some specific aspects of an individual’s life. This is often granted in cases of a mentally disabled adults. It allows the conservator to continue caring for them, while also allowing the greatest degree of autonomy possible. Conservatorship focuses on the specific needs of the individual.
With a proper estate plan, which includes a living trust and power of attorney, you may be able to avoid a conservatorship. When you become incapacitated, it is important to have someone you trust make decisions that affect your medical and personal care as well as manage all your financial affairs. If pursuing conservatorship law options is the most beneficial for you or your loved ones, we will stand by you throughout the process.
It is not unusual for a person to resist the appointment of a conservator. Sometimes contested conservatorship proceedings can be some of the most painful actions in probate court. Let us work with you to avoid this troubling process.