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When a Conservatorship for a Parent Is Needed

When a Conservatorship for a Parent Is Needed
Conservatorship focuses on financial affairs, managing assets and handling financial decisions for someone unable to do so.

Beck, Lenox and Stolzer brings you this article from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “When it’s the right time to pursue conservatorship for your loved one.”One woman felt she had no choice but to retain an attorney and petition the court for a conservatorship to manage her father’s finances. Her father had been targeted by a family acquaintance who tried to isolate him from his family. The acquaintance then married the widower and promptly took over his bank accounts. She was also appointed as the trustee of his revocable trust. This article provides valuable information on when a conservatorship for a parent is needed.

Conservatorship concerns the financial affairs of a person, managing assets and handling financial decisions for someone who cannot do so for themselves, whether from illness, injury, or other types of incapacity. Guardianship, on the other hand, is more concerned with the well-being and personal care of an incapacitated individual or minor, including day-to-day decision-making and healthcare decisions.

For the family situation mentioned above, the daughter researched ways to protect her father from losing everything. All resources pointed to conservatorship as the solution. The family was able to protect the father’s assets, including the nearly $200,000 eventually needed to provide round-the-clock medical care during his final year of life.

One daughter served as legal guardian, while a third-party county conservator managed financial matters. The pressure was relieved from the woman and her siblings by deferring the money management to a professional. Having a neutral third party handle finances allows the siblings to focus on their father’s care.

A conservatorship or guardianship is court-supervised and established when a person is deemed incompetent. By contrast, a Power of Attorney is a voluntary arrangement made while the person is still competent, offering a less intrusive alternative without court involvement.

In some situations, even when a Power of Attorney is in place, a court-appointed guardianship or conservatorship becomes necessary.

A conservatorship may become necessary because of significant mental decline from diseases like Alzheimer’s or a person’s inability to manage their personal or financial affairs. Anyone considering a conservatorship for a loved one must speak with an estate planning attorney. The attorney should have experience in probate courts, estate law, conservatorship and guardianship law and an empathic understanding of family dynamics.

Beck, Lenox and Stolzer advises single and married individuals to create estate plans as soon as possible, including executing an advance directive for health care and a durable power of attorney for Finances, as well as for Healthcare. If someone loses their mental capacity without having executed a will, that individual leaves themselves vulnerable to elder financial abuse. Even when a power of attorney has been executed, caring children should keep an eye out for signs when a conservatorship for a parent is needed.

If you think a loved one needs a court-appointed conservatorship or guardianship, you are invited to schedule a free phone consultation by clicking here.

Reference: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (March 1, 2024) “When it’s the right time to pursue conservatorship for your loved one”

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