It can happen because of illness, injury, or dementia. Sometimes a person may no longer be able to handle their financial affairs. Checks bounce, utilities are turned off due to non-payment or, even worse, a scam artist may take savings that took years of hard work to accumulate. Relief is available – a conservatorship – but it’s not always the best solution. With careful planning, families can avoid the hardship and expense of a conservatorship.
How Does a Conservatorship Work?
Once it becomes obvious that a vulnerable person needs assistance, court assistance is required. The potential conservator will file an application with the Court. Before the judge can appoint a conservator, though, proof of incapacity is required. Medical professionals will examine the incapacitated person (the “ward”) and report back to the court. If the court determines that the ward needs help, a conservator will be appointed.
A conservator is authorized to act on a ward’s finances. However, the ward’s day-to-day activities, living arrangements, and health care issues are not handled by a conservator. A ward requiring assistance with these activities may need a guardian in addition to a conservator.
Conservatorships aren’t free, of course. There are court costs, attorney’s fees, medical examinations, and so forth just to have the conservator appointed. Conservators also may have to pay fees related to their duties.
Estate Planning vs. Conservatorship.
Fortunately, there are ways to avoid a conservatorship. It all comes down to a little advance planning.
For example, including a durable power of attorney in an estate plan may eliminate the need for a conservatorship. By appointing an agent, the future ward has addressed the potential future need for assistance. If a time comes that assistance is needed with financial matters, the agent named in the durable power of attorney takes over under the terms of the power of attorney and in a relatively seamless fashion. There’s usually no need to go to court.
Learn More About Avoiding a Conservatorship.
The attorneys at Adams & Miller, P.C. stand ready to assess your needs and develop the right plan to meet those needs. For a free consultation, contact us at 256-251-2137 or use our convenient Contact Form. Our offices are located in Anniston and Birmingham, but we also help clients in the Gadsden, Hoover, Talladega, Vestavia Hills, and surrounding areas.