Conservatorship is a legal process where the Probate and Family Court grants authority to an individual to oversee the financial affairs of another. For example, this could benefit an elderly parent suffering from dementia, a minor, or a person who is mentally incompetent or disabled.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused courts throughout the nation to shutter their operations, at least to a certain degree. Establishing a court-supervised conservatorship in the event of a person’s incapacitation or probating an estate may be difficult during the pandemic with these court operations being limited.
With probate courts not operating to their normal levels at the moment, it is crucial for people planning their estates or revising their plans during the pandemic to make sure they do so in such a way that allows them to avoid a situation in which a conservatorship would be necessary.
The best way to accomplish this is by establishing and funding a revocable living trust, which will also help you to bypass the probate process and enable your heirs to collect their inheritance without delay.
Using the Revocable Living Trust
A revocable living trust will have three important parties: the grantor (the person who makes the trust), the trustee (who executes the trust on the grantor’s behalf) and the beneficiaries (who receive funds and assets from the trust). These parties will generally be the same person at the establishment of the trust, which differs from an irrevocable trust, which requires the grantor to name someone else to be the trustee and beneficiaries after establishing the trust.
The grantor will fund the trust with some or all of their assets after creating the revocable living trust, and designate the trust as the beneficiary of other accounts or life insurance policies.
If all the grantor’s assets are placed in the revocable living trust, then he or she will technically not own any property in their name. Instead, the property will be owned by the trust and managed by the trustee. This means any assets placed in the trust would not be subject to a conservatorship ordered and supervised by the courts in the event of the grantor’s incapacitation.
The grantor can also name a successor trustee in the trust agreement. The successor trustee would have the legal authority to manage trust assets in the event of the original trustee’s incapacity.
A funded revocable trust would prevent a conservatorship from being necessary, which is extremely beneficial in a time in which a pandemic has stunted probate court operations.
In addition to a conservator, it may still be necessary for the grantor to have a guardian to take care of their medical needs and everyday tasks.
Planning for Conservatorship and Guardianship
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