When an adult is no longer able to care for himself or herself, the court can appoint another person to take over responsibility of managing finances and other everyday affairs. The person appointed (usually a spouse, family member, relative or hired professional) would serve as conservator and collect income and pay expenses on behalf of the protected person.
It can be difficult for an adult child to let a parent know that a conservator is needed. A parent with dementia or Alzheimer’s, for example, may not be aware of a problem. The parent can also become confused in thinking that the child is trying to take over money matters. The parent may think that the child is trying to cheat the parent, or the parent might feel that a vestige of independence is being removed.
Most such situations are resolved by requiring the person in need of help to go through neurological and psychological examination by a trained physician, psychologist or registered nurse. The court relies heavily on the results from these examinations to determine the need for a conservator.
This level of care protects those who are incapacitated from losing assets and being evicted from their homes or living facilities because they have failed to make payments.
Conservators are not, however, required to pay for the care of the protected person with the conservator’s own resources. The conservator should use the protected person’s resources to take care of expenses. The conservator can then apply for government benefits if needed to pay for the cost of care.
Some of a conservator’s duties include:
- Obtaining a credit report on behalf of the protected person.
- Creating a budget for the protected person’s finances.
- Sending annual accounting reports to the court, as specified in that state.
Should the conservator fail to fulfill these responsibilities, he or she can be replaced by someone better suited to the position. Conservators who mismanage funds can be held personally liable.
If you have an aging loved one who is not making careful financial decisions, a conservatorship can be a good solution. Conservatorships are complicated. If you don’t like balancing your own checkbook or reviewing financial statements, then acting as a conservator is probably not something you should undertake. You may benefit from the help and direction of a financial conservator.
If you have questions about conservatorship or serving as a conservator, I’d love to help. Please comment below or contact our office.