A conservatorship is necessary when a person becomes unable to attend to their own the personal care and/or financial affairs and the court appoints is an individual to handle their affairs.
Many trusts are actually broader “estate plans” which include Power of Attorney designations for medical and financial decision-making purposes. In most instances a properly drafted Power of Attorney eliminates the need for a conservatorship. But when such instruments are not in place, a conservatorship will be needed. Most commonly, elderly individuals with advanced Alzheimer’s or dementia require conservatorships.
Creation of a conservatorship is required in situations where an agent, under the Power of Attorney, does not properly care for the person or misappropriates finances. In such situations, family members or friends of the disabled individual have the ability to request that a court remove the agent under the Power of Attorney and seek replacement with a conservator.
Conservatorships can be expensive and time-consuming and often require the assistance of at least one attorney, but are often important for the protection of persons who cannot care for themselves or handle their own financial matters. Conservators must inform the court through accountings of all transactions entered by the conservator for the affected party.
Similarly, guardianships allow the court to appoint to be responsible for a person under the age of eighteen. Guardians are commonly appointed when a parent is terminally ill, unfit, or upon the death of both parents. As in a conservatorship, a guardianship is established with respect to personal care and/or financial affairs of the minor.
A guardian is typically nominated in will or trust documents. The nomination in a will or trust provides guidance to the Probate Court as to the person to appoint as the child’s guardian. Once a child reaches the age of eighteen, the guardianship relationship will terminate.