You might have heard about conservatorships before, especially in the context of elder law, but perhaps you aren’t sure what they are. A conservatorship is an arrangement reviewed and authorized by the court whereby one person is responsible for the finances, health, and general decisions of someone who is not able to manage their own affairs. If this sounds like it could be a viable and necessary option for your elderly loved one, our team of elder law attorneys at SCC Legal have compiled some more information about how a conservatorship works.
Definition and examples of a conservatorship
The legal definition of a conservatorship is when a judge appoints a conservator to manage the affairs and oversee the general welfare of a conservatee, who has been deemed unable to care for themselves. Conservatees are often elderly people, people with temporary disabilities, or people with permanent disabilities.
For example, if an elderly person was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and was no longer of sound mind, a court would appoint someone – a conservator – to be responsible for the person’s health, finances, and general well-being.
How does a conservatorship work?
Conservators are given specific responsibilities depending on the individual situation. It’s important to note that no two conservatorships are the same. General responsibilities of a conservatorship might include:
- Managing the conservatee’s assets
- Signing legal documents on behalf of the conservatee
- Managing the conservatee’s finances, like investments and paying bills
- Hiring any health services the conservatee needs, like a home health aide or physical therapist
- Maintaining life and health insurance policies for the conservatee
Conservators are often spouses, adult children, or relatives of the conservatee, but a conservator can also be a close friend the person trusts to manage their health, finances, and overall well-being.
Types of conservatorships
Temporary conservatorship: Used when someone becomes temporarily incapacitated due to an accident, an injury, or an illness, these arrangements are invoked when the conservatee needs immediate assistance.
Limited conservatorship: Typically used with adults who have certain developmental disabilities, such as cerebral palsy. A limited conservatorship ensures the conservatee has the support they need, while also retaining some independence.
General conservatorship: This arrangement, usually invoked in the most serious of cases, is for conservatees who are unable to manage any aspect of their own lives.