Conservatorship FAQs: What Conservators Can (& Can’t) Do

August 14, 2016

Conservatorships can be powerful ways to protect loved ones when they may not be capable of making important decisions on their own. In fact, while conservatorships can protect minors (like when a parent passes away), they can also be invaluable for protecting people with special needs, those who incapacitated, and others who are not able to take care of themselves (particularly when it comes to making financial or legal decisions).

To shed more light on conservatorships and what they can do, the following provides some helpful answers to commonly asked questions about these estate planning devices.

Q – How Does Someone Become a Conservator?

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Conservatorship FAQs
A – Conservators are appointed via court orders. While spouses and family members can serve as conservators, so too can others – like attorneys.

Before appointing a conservator, the court will review the details of a situation to determine if there is a need for a conservatorship in the first place.

Here, it’s also important to note that conservatorship powers can be split between two (or more) parties when the court sees fit (e.g., there can be co-conservators for a single protected person, who may also be referred to as the ward).

Q – What’s the Difference Between a Conservator and a Guardian?

A – While the terms conservator and guardian may be used interchangeably in some states, typically, the difference between these terms is that:

  • Conservators are generally responsible for overseeing property, assets, financial decisions and/or legal decisions
  • Guardians are usually responsible for handling care-related provisions for the ward (like living arrangements, health care, etc.).

Here, it should be noted that the courts can limit or expand the powers of conservators and guardians to the extent they see fit (based on the specific needs and/or limitations of the ward).

Q – When Are Conservatorships Established?

A – Typically, it’s advisable to establish a conservatorship if or when a loved one:

  • Is seriously injured in an accident
  • Slips into a coma
  • Is diagnosed with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or some other progressively debilitating condition
  • Is living with mental health issues or impairments.
Q – What Are the Benefits of Conservatorships?

A – The advantages to conservatorships can include (and are by no means limited to):

  • Being empowered to make important decisions on behalf of your loved one
  • Being able to carry out your loved one’s wishes (when they cannot do so themselves)
  • Preventing your loved one from becoming a ward of the state.

Those who accept the role of conservator can also receive financial compensation for serving in this role (with that compensation being set by the court).

Q – Are There Any Downsides to Becoming a Conservator?

A – This is more difficult to answer without understanding the specifics of your situation, as there may be some possible drawbacks to serving as a conservator. However, in general, the benefits of conservatorships (when they are properly set up) can far outweight any drawbacks, especially if you are the individual appointed as a conservator to protect your loved one.

Ready for More Answers? Contact Santa Clarita Attorneys at the Law Offices of Darrell C. Harriman

For additional answers about conservatorships – or any estate planning or probate issue, contact the trusted Santa Clarita attorneys at the Law Offices of Darrell C. Harriman. For more than three decades, we have been dedicated to helping people develop and administer estate plans, wills, trusts, conservatorships, etc.

Call us today at (818) 892-7093 or email us using the contact form on this page to set up a free initial consult and receive honest answers and uncomplicated advice regarding your best estate planning options.

From offices based in North Hills, we provide the highest quality legal services to clients throughout the San Fernando Valley, Simi Valley, Santa Clarita and the greater Los Angeles area.

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