What to Do When Appointed Conservator of an Adult
Being appointed conservator of a loved one is a serious responsibility. As a conservator, you are in charge of your loved one’s financial affairs and you have a duty to act in their best interest.
Court Appointed Conservator
If an adult becomes mentally incapacitated or otherwise is incapable of making responsible decisions, the court will appoint one or more substitute decision makers. In Massachusetts, the court may appoint a “guardian” to oversee medical and personal affairs, and a “conservator” to oversee financial affairs. Guardianship and Conservatorship are legal relationships between a competent adult and a person who, because of incapacity, is no longer able to take care of their own affairs (often referred to as the “ward”).
If you have been appointed conservator, the following are things you need to know.
1) Read the Court Order
The Massachusetts Family and Probate Court appoints the conservator, and the court order describes the powers and duties of the conservator. You can be authorized to make specific financial decisions for the ward and given duties such as paying monthly bills. Depending on the court order, you may or may not have to seek court approval for various decisions. If you aren’t sure what you are allowed to do, consult with a lawyer.
2) Understand your fiduciary duty as conservator
You have what is called a “fiduciary duty” to your ward, which is an extremely high standard. You are legally required to act in the best interest of your ward at all times and manage your ward’s affairs carefully.
With that in mind, it is imperative that you keep your finances separate from your ward’s finances. You should never use the ward’s money to give or lend money to someone else or for someone else’s benefit (or your own benefit) without approval of the court.
As part of your fiduciary duty, you must maintain good records of everything you receive or spend. Keep all your receipts and a detailed list of what the ward’s money was spent on.
3) File Reports to the Court on Time
The court order should specify what reports you are required to file. The first report is usually an inventory of the ward’s property. You then may have to file yearly accountings with the court detailing what you spent and received on behalf of the ward. If the ward dies or the conservatorship ends, you will need to file a final accounting.
4) Consult with the Ward
As much as possible, you should include the ward in your decision-making. Communicate what you are doing and try to determine what your ward would like done.
When You Need Legal Counsel
Every situation is unique and having an experienced lawyer who understands your issues can save considerable time and expense. At Baker Law Group, our experienced lawyers can help families to:
- Identify the responsibilities of a conservator and assist with court documents and proceedings;
- Review alternatives to court-appointments and avoid them when possible; and
- Establish a plan to care for minor children and adult dependents.
Baker Law Group offers a complimentary initial consultation to determine how we can assist you.
To schedule a consultation:
781-996-5656 phone or