If a parent, spouse or loved one can no longer handle his or her own affairs, it may be necessary to petition the court to take control of that person’s finances or personal care. A conservatorship is a judicially supervised proceeding whereby one person is appointed to take financial responsibility and control over another individual’s assets. A Conservatorship allows a person or persons to take control over ones finances, while a Guardianship allows one to take control over ones physical self or body.
You should try to avoid a Conservatorship or Guardianship by using a durable power of attorney or Health Care Proxy. While the conservatorship is time-consuming, public, and often adversarial, a durable power of attorney and health care proxy is inexpensive, private, and non-adversarial. If you choose a conservatorship or guardianship, the proceeding will begin with a petition filed in the probate court asking a judge to appoint an individual to oversee the financial and/or physical affairs of the disabled person. Notices are required to be sent to all the heirs, who have a chance to object. If no objections are received, or if all objections are dismissed, a conservator and/or guardian will be appointed to take financial control.
The conservator is responsible for collecting all assets, income, and paying all bills. Annual accounts to the probate court are required. Notices are required to be sent and any person objecting to an account will have the right to do so. When the ward dies, the conservatorship is closed out and the assets are to be paid over in accordance with either the ward’s last will and testament, or, if there is no will, in accordance with state law.