It is difficult to watch a loved one become incapacitated. When someone you love is unable to care for him or herself, or properly manage their finances, you may want to pursue a conservatorship. This type of legal appointment can allow you to care for your family member. To become a conservator, you must first ask a judge to grant you the authority to act on your loved one’s behalf. The petition process can be difficult, so it is important to consult with an experienced probate attorney before you begin.
A Conservator’s Duties
There are two types of probate conservator: a conservator of the person, and a conservator of the estate. Each type has different responsibilities, but the court closely monitors both types of conservatorship. A conservator of the person makes personal decisions for the conservatee, who is unable to care for him or herself. These decisions can include choices about food, clothing, residence, and routine medical care. However, the conservator cannot make these routine medical decisions if the conservatee forbids such.
On the other hand, a conservator of the estate manages the conservatee’s financial matters. In such a case, the conservator can pay bills, invest assets, manage daily finances, and collect payments (like disability or pension payments) for the conservatee. Sometimes, one person fulfills both conservator roles.
Regardless of the type of probate conservatorship, the court will be closely involved. Probate laws dictate these types of conservatorship and require close court monitoring. These laws are designed to protect the conservatee, who cannot advocate for him or herself. The judge who appoints the conservator is obligated to conduct a review, typically six months after the appointment and then one year after the appointment. After those two initial reviews, the judge will make follow-up reviews each year. Again, this is to ensure that the conservatee is being properly cared for and that his or rights are being protected.
Get Conservatorship Help Now
If you believe a loved one is unable to care for him or herself, you may be able to petition the court to grant you a conservatorship. This can be a lengthy legal process and involves many complex steps. The law grants preference to those who can act as conservator, based on their relation to the conservatee. Generally, spouses are preferred to act as conservators. If there is no spouse, or the spouse is not qualified, the following people may act as conservator (in order of legal preference):
- Adult child
- Other persons permitted by law
- Public guardian
If you are concerned about a family member who is unable to care for him or herself, contact a skilled probate lawyer in Cherry Hill, NJ. Experienced lawyers understand the complicated state probate laws and will thoroughly explain your legal options to you. Call a law office today to schedule a free and confidential consultation.
Thanks to Klenk Law for their insight into estate planning and probate conservatorship.