What Is a Conservatorship?
If the mention of a conservatorship brings to mind Britney Spears, you might think it's an arrangement used only by celebrities or wealthy people.
However, conservatorships can be put into place in a variety of situations.
What is a conservatorship? It's a situation in which the courts appoint a conservator to handle various affairs for someone who is deemed unable to handle those decisions themselves. The control usually relates to the person's finances and personal care decisions — especially their health.
Conservatorships are usually established for minors or for adults who are incapacitated and can't make decisions on their own. The court details what types of decisions the conservator can make, but it might include things like controlling assets, paying bills, investing money and making medical decisions.
You can have a general or limited conservatorship. A general conservatorship arrangement means the conservator has most of the decision-making powers. In a limited conservatorship, the conservatee maintains a large amount of control. The court specifies certain areas that the conservator controls.
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The conservator is the person the court assigns to make decisions for the conservatee. They make decisions and carry out related tasks for the person. For example, they decide how to budget the person's money and ensure things like getting bills paid and taxes filed are completed. They must follow the terms established by the courts. Conservators also typically have to report to the court and provide documentation to show how they're managing the conservatee's finances and personal decisions.
Conservatorships are put into place when the person in question isn't able to make decisions for themselves. Minors sometimes have conservatorships if their parents are no longer alive or are unable to make decisions for them.
Adults might need a conservatorship for a variety of reasons that make them unable to make sound decisions for themselves. One common situation is an elderly adult who has dementia or Alzheimer's disease, making them unable to handle their finances and other decisions. Younger adults might also need a conservatorship if they are incapable of making decisions for themselves. This can happen if the person has intellectual disabilities, mental illness, drug abuse issues or other issues that affect their ability to handle their financial and personal affairs.
In some cases, the conservatorship lasts until the conservatee dies. This is often the case if the conservatorship is due to a condition that won't improve, such as dementia or intellectual disabilities. In other cases, the conservatorship can be removed if the person is deemed no longer incapacitated. That decision is made by the court.
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