A conservatorship can be set up after a judge decides that a person (called a “conservatee”) cannot take care of his or herself from a personal or financial perspective. A judge will choose another person or organization (called the “conservator”) to be in charge of the conservatee’s care or finances, or both. A conservator can be a family member, friend, or professional.
Depending on the scope of the duties of Conservator, the court can appoint a Conservator of the Person and the Conservator of the Estate.
What is a Conservator of the Person?
When the court appoints someone as the Conservator of a Person, the conservator will:
- arrange for the conservatee’s care and protection;
- decide where the conservatee will live; and
- be in charge of: health care, food, clothes, personal care, housekeeping, transportation and recreation.
What is a Conservator of the Estate?
When the court appoints a Conservator of an Estate, the conservator will:
- manage the conservatee’s finances;
- protect the conservatee’s income and property;
- make a list of everything in the estate;
- make a plan to ensure the conservatee’s needs are met;
- make sure the conservatee’s bills are paid;
- invest the conservatee’s money;
- make sure the conservatee gets all the benefits he or she is eligible for;
- make sure the conservatee’s taxes are filed and paid on time;
- keep exact financial records; and
- make regular reports of the financial accounts to the court and other interested persons.
Sometimes the court will appoint a limited conservatorship. A limited conservatorship is set up for adults with developmental disabilities who cannot fully care for themselves, but who do not need the higher level of care or help given under a general conservatorship. In general, a limited conservator has less authority than a general conservator. A limited conservator has authority to do only those things that are granted at the time of appointment. The judge decides which responsibilities the conservatee will keep and which ones the conservator will have.
When a person needs immediate help, a judge upon finding of good cause, may set up a temporary conservator of the person and/or of the estate, for a specific period until a permanent conservator can be appointed. A temporary conservator arranges for temporary care, protection, and support of the conservatee and protects the conservatee’s property from loss or damage. A temporary conservator may also be appointed to fill in between permanent conservators, if, for example, the permanent conservator dies or the judge has ordered his or her removal. The authority of a temporary conservator is much more limited than a general conservator.