What is Conservatorship? Understanding the Legal Process

When an individual becomes unable to make their own financial or personal decisions, a court may decide to appoint a trusted person (a conservator) to handle those decisions for the person who is deemed unable to (conservatee).

It is important to note that not all conservatorships are the same; the arrangement can vary based upon multiple factors such as:

  • The state you live in
  • The type of conservatorship (permanent, temporary, short-term, limited, financial, physical, general)

Prior to deciding on pursuing a conservatorship, it is important to weigh the above and other factors.

What Responsibilities Does a Conservator Have?

The specific responsibilities of a conservator can vary greatly based on the type of conservatorship. In general, a conservator will have a great deal of responsibility. A conservator must always act in the best interests of the conservatee. If this is not the case, the conservator can be removed by the court.

What Are the Different Types of Conservatorships?

As referenced above, there are many different types of conservatorships that can be granted by the court. These include:

  • Permanent
  • Temporary
  • Short-term
  • Limited
  • Financial
  • Physical
  • General

What is a Permanent Conservatorship?

A permanent conservatorship is as it sounds: The court grants a conservatorship that can only be rescinded if the conservatee proves that they no longer require someone to handle the decisions outlined in the arrangement.

What is a Temporary Conservatorship?

A temporary conservatorship is one that lasts for a set amount of time that has been determined by the court.

What is a Short-term Conservatorship?

A short-term conservatorship is granted by the court when an individual requires the assistance for a short length of time, typically 90 days or less.

What is a Limited Conservatorship?

A limited conservatorship gives the conservator a specific set of responsibilities. In this case, the conservatee has been deemed to need assistance with some tasks but not others.

What is a Financial Conservatorship?

In a financial conservatorship, the conservator will have full control and responsibility over the conservatee’s financial matters. This includes the responsibility to pay all of the conservatee’s bills and manage their day-to-day finances.

What is a Physical Conservatorship?

A physical conservatorship involves the conservator having the authority to make health related decisions for the conservatee, as well as decisions such as living arrangements.

What is a General Conservatorship?

A general conservatorship is one in which the conservator will have complete control over the conservatee’s health, finances and other important decisions.

What Would Require Someone to Need a Conservator?

There are numerous reasons for and scenarios in which a conservatorship is appropriate. These include a person becoming incapacitated physically, mentally or both. In many cases, conservatorships involve elderly individuals being the conservatee.

How Does Conservatorship Vary by State?

The conservatorship process differs from state to state. For example, in New York, the conservatorship process is referred to as a guardianship.

Specifically, in New York state, a conservatorship is known as an Article 81 guardianship.

Who Can Be Appointed By the Court as a Conservator?

The court will select a trusted individual, who is typically a relative, to be a conservator (or guardian). In cases where no family members are deemed suitable to become a conservator or guardian, the court can appoint an independent individual selected by the state.

Conservatorship and/or guardianship may seem like a hectic situation, from determining when the time is appropriate to determining which family member should be conservator or guardian for the incapacitated individual. However, we are here to serve your needs. Contact us today to learn how we can assist you with your situation.

Image by Mohamed Hassan 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 www.monteleonlaw.com or call (914) 840-2529.

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