Conservatorship is an option that is considered for seniors who can no longer care for themselves. Seniors may be conserved once they reach a point when they cannot care for themselves or their finances. This post explains what conservatorship is, what a conservator does, and, why seniors are conserved and what that means.
What is Conservatorship?
Conservatorship is a legal process designed to protect the interests of a person, commonly a senior, when they cannot manage themselves independently. A conservator is appointed by the court to manage their personal care, financial affairs, or both. But conservatorships can also be used for people who are otherwise incapacitated or have some kind of disability.
To enter into a conservatorship, a probate court has to issue a court order in the county where the person to be conserved lives. The conservator is most often a family member or a friend. However, independent conservators are hired to serve as an entity that represents someone’s interests. Independent conservators are commonly appointed when a senior doesn’t have someone to act as their conservator.
What Does a Conservator Do?
A conservator is a fiduciary, which means that they are responsible for acting in the best interest of the person being conserved. This means making sure bills are paid and money is managed appropriately if charged with financial conservatorship. For physical conservatorships, the conservator is charged with making sure the conservatee has appropriate health care and a safe living situation. A conservator must keep records of everything that they do including full financial and/or health records.
Why are Seniors Conserved and Alternatives?
Seniors and other people are conserved primarily because of their lack of capacity to make sound rational decisions on their own. This has to be demonstrated to the court. Generally conditions like mental illness or developmental disability are not enough to qualify for a conservatorship. Once a senior is conserved, it means that they have given up a significant amount of freedom and autonomy. So, it is not something that should be entered into lightly.
There are other ways to help manage personal or financial affairs for seniors. By putting together a team to help the person with personal care, financial oversight and healthcare, often times you can attain the same goals without the need for conservatorship. A power of attorney can be drawn up in advance. It’s a legal document that gives power over certain matters like health or finances over to specific people. Revocable trusts or living trusts can be set up to hold assets with a friend, relative, or institution acting as a guardian. For personal care and homemaking, home care services can be employed. A fiduciary can be engaged for handling financial matters.
To get help for a senior in Orange County or Newport Beach, CA, reach out to Optimal Senior Care Solutions. We provide a range of care options from personal care to homemakers. Our team of care experts would be happy to assist.