By Carl A. Glad, Partner, Law Offices of Kurt M. Ahlberg LLC
A conservatorship is a legal concept that allows an individual to manage the affairs of someone that is incapable to doing the same for themselves.
The conservator is the Court appointed individual that manages those affairs. In Connecticut, a Probate Court is the only Court that can appoint a conservator. This occurs after a hearing. At the hearing, the Court will hear evidence, including an examination of a physician’s medical evaluation, that demonstrates the potential conserved individual is incapable of managing their affairs. The Court will also look to see that there are no other less restrictive means such as a Power-of-Attorney or Health Care Representative that would accomplish the same goal. Once the determination is made that a conservator should be appointed, the Court will determine the person that should act as conservator. Often a conservator is a family member that has volunteered to undertake this responsibility. However, the Court may also appoint an independent party such as an attorney to act in this role. The Court will look to see that the proposed conservator is familiar with finances and the responsibilities of a conservator.
Additionally, an individual can voluntarily apply for a conservatorship. When this occurs, the Court will appoint a conservator. However, the Court must ensure that the individual is aware of what it means to be conserved. A voluntarily conserved person can also terminate the conservatorship at any time.
A conservator can be responsible for either an individual’s finances or their person and medical needs. A conservator may also be responsible for both aspects of the individual’s life. There may also be two separate individuals to handle each of these aspects. The Court requires financial accountings and reports about the personal needs of a conserved person. This oversight helps to ensure that a conserved person is not exploited.
Applying for a conservatorship should be a last resort. It is an extraordinary measure that significantly alters the conserved individual’s relationship to the community. An attorney experienced in the Probate Court can assist with this difficult and important process.
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