Conservatorship is the process where a person is appointed by the probate court to handle another person’s finances. The court may take such action for the individual’s own protection and welfare if they are unable to manage their property, finances, or business affairs.
When planning your estate, it is in your best interest to avoid a conservatorship because the process used to appoint a conservator can be complicated and expensive.
One of the best tools you have at your disposal to help you avoid a conservatorship is durable power of attorney. A person with durable power of attorney is able to act on your behalf in financial matters, even if you are incapacitated.
Conservatorship proceedings are only needed if you do not have anyone who’s already taken on the role of attorney-in-fact via a power of attorney document, or if your chosen agent/attorney-in-fact needed additional guidance from the court.
What if I do not establish durable power of attorney?
If you do not have a durable power of attorney, it may be necessary for a conservatorship proceeding to begin. In some circumstances, these proceedings can be complicated, expensive and cause drama among family members.
Public Conservatorship Proceedings
Conservatorship proceedings are public, which means issues related to your estate would become public knowledge to anyone who chooses to do a bit of research. And if you have relatives who decide to fight over who should take on the role, it could cause some significant disagreements and feuds within your family.
Court Appointed Conservator
The courts choose who will serve as conservator thus there is no guarantee they will choose the same person you think is the best person for the job. Only you can say who you think is best-suited to handle your estate. Courts will do their best with the information they have at their disposal, but they do not have the intimate knowledge of your estate, your friends, and your family.
Family members can also take legal action to seek a conservatorship if they can provide the court with clear evidence that your chosen agent is not acting in your best interests.
Keep in mind, appointing a conservator is only one step in the proceedings.
The conservator will also need to post a bond, often at an additional cost. The bond effectively provides insurance if the conservator misuses or misappropriates any estate money.
Additional steps include preparation of detailed financial reports about your estate, hiring an accountant or lawyer to assist with the process, and getting approval for certain types of transactions such as selling real estate or making investments.
Having someone to manage your property, finances, and business affairs on your behalf becomes much easier and cleaner if you create a durable power of attorney document while you are of sound mind. When doing so, it is also helpful to be open and honest with your power of attorney about your wishes.
For more information about creating a durable power of attorney, contact an experienced estate planning lawyer at Baker Law Group.
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