Are You Considering A Conservatorship?
Your goal should be to avoid a conservatorship. A conservatorship is a judicially supervised proceeding whereby one person is appointed to take financial responsibility and control over another individual’s assets. In the best situation, you may be able to appoint one or more family members to be a conservator for the benefit of a relative. In the worst situation, a judge will appoint a colleague to oversee your family’s financial affairs.
Evaluating Your Options
You should try to avoid a conservatorship by using a durable power of attorney. While the conservatorship is time-consuming, public, and often adversarial, a durable power of attorney is inexpensive, private, and nonadversarial.
If you choose a conservatorship, the proceeding will begin with a petition filed in the probate court asking a judge to appoint an individual to oversee the financial affairs of the disabled person, usually referred to as a ward. Notices are required to be sent to all the heirs, who have a chance to object. If no objections are received, or if all objections are dismissed, a conservator will be appointed to take financial control of the affairs of the ward.
The conservator is responsible for collecting all assets, income, and paying all bills. Annual accounts to the probate court are required. Notices are required to be sent and any person objecting to an account will have the right to do so.
When the ward dies, the conservatorship is closed out and the assets are to be paid over in accordance with either the ward’s last will and testament, or, if there is no will, in accordance with state law. ( See Mass. General Laws Chapter 191.)
If your family needs the help of a lawyer to petition for a conservatorship, we can help. Or if you want to establish a durable power of attorney so that you and your family will not have to go through a conservatorship proceeding, our elder law attorneys can assist you.