Conservatorship Abuse: What Do You Need to Look Out For?

Conservatorship is the legal process by which the court appoints a trusted individual, a conservator, to handle the financial and personal decisions of another, the conservatee.

There are numerous different types of conservatorships, which vary depending upon specific state laws. In addition, there are many reasons why a conservatorship may be put in place, from physical to mental incapacitation, and in some cases, both.

However, there are sometimes instances in which the conservator does not properly execute their duties, resulting in conservatorship abuse.

What is Conservatorship Abuse?

As the term implies, conservatorship abuse occurs when a conservator misuses their power to exploit or otherwise harm the conservatee. Conservatorship abuse can often include the following:

  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Financial abuse

Conservatorships often involve an elderly individual being the conservatee. In any case, the conservatee may not be able to realize that he or she is a victim of conservatorship abuse.

How Does Conservatorship Abuse Occur?

Conservatorship abuse occurs due to the power the conservator has over the conservatee. The conservator is appointed by the court to act in the best interests of the conservatee. Unfortunately, there are instances in which the conservator does not fulfill this duty, and chooses to abuse their powers.

What are Indications of Conservatorship Abuse?

There are numerous telltale signs of conservatorship abuse. Some of the signs include:

  • Changes to the conservatee’s estate plan
  • Unpaid bills
  • Changes in spending
  • Bounced checks
  • Other forms of abuse and/or neglect

Sign of Conservatorship Abuse: Changes to the Conservatee’s Estate Plan

Any changes to assets in the conservatee’s estate plan can be a sign of conservatorship abuse. This includes assets being transferred or removed.

Sign of Conservatorship Abuse: Unpaid Bills

A definitive sign of conservatorship abuse is unpaid bills. The conservatee will receive notices for bills that are unpaid, despite the fact that the conservator should have paid them.

Sign of Conservatorship Abuse: Changes in Spending

If you begin to notice your loved one who is a conservatee experiencing a change in their spending habits, this can often be an indicator of conservatorship abuse. Changes in spending can include purchasing expensive items or gifts when the conservatee would not previously do so.

Sign of Conservatorship Abuse: Bounced Checks

Bounced checks are another key indicator of conservatorship abuse. This indicates a lack of available funds in the conservatee’s account, which could be the result of the conservator misusing those funds.

Sign of Conservatorship Abuse: Other Forms of Abuse and/or Neglect

The person appointed as conservator is an individual that the court deems to be trustworthy. In many cases, this is a family member. If you notice the conservatee has other signs of abuse, such as physical injuries or neglect, it should raise suspicion that he or she may be the victim of conservatorship abuse as well.

How Can You Prevent Conservatorship Abuse?

Preventing conservatorship abuse may prove to be difficult, considering that the court has appointed the conservator because it is deemed that he or she can be trusted to act on behalf of the conservatee. However, by creating a durable power of attorney beforehand, you can select a person that you trust to act on your behalf should you become unable to do so yourself.

What Can You Do About Conservatorship Abuse?

Our experienced team of elder law attorneys can assist you in your conservatorship abuse case. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.

To learn more about conservatorship and various other estate planning and elder law topics, find our previous blog articles here.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

About the Author

Alyssa Marie Monteleon, Esq.

Alyssa Marie Monteleon is an elder law and estate planning attorney at the Monteleon Law Group, PLLC with offices in New York and Virginia. For more information, please visit or call (914) 840-2529.

You may also like these