What is a Conservatorship?

     A conservatorship happens when a petition is filed with the Court for one to be established because someone can no longer take care of his or her life.  This can be a conservatorship of the person [personal care issues] or of the “estate” [meaning finances] or both.  The Court appoints a person to handle and be responsible for another person’s financial and/or daily living affairs and needs. A conservatorship may be necessary when a person in need cannot handle his/her affairs and has not nominated another person to help through a trust or power of attorney document, when the person nominated is not suitable, or in the case of physical or financial abuse.
     If you are looking at a conservatorship as an option, the planning has failed.  You can totally avoid having to go to Court, having to make all your personal financial information public, having to account annually, by setting this up during your life.  With powers of attorney for asset management and health care, someone is nominated in advance to step in for you if you can no longer handle your own decisions.  A Trust can also set out your personal care directions. You list a series of people you nominate so that if there is someone who cannot do the work [due to death or unavailability], the next in line can step in.  This is also the case if there is elder abuse.  The next in line can take steps to replace the abuser and protect the elder.  A conservatorship is a valuable tool.  You can, however, avoid having to go this public, expensive route by proper planning.

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