It’s an unfortunate trend that the number of people experiencing Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia or some other form of diminishing mental capacity is rapidly rising. This trend brings with it an increase in the number of people that can no longer manage their own needs financially, physically or both. If unprepared, the victims of mental diseases may be relegating their beloved family members to the expensive, constrictive and burdensome ordeal of petitioning the court for a conservatorship.
A conservatorship is legal proceeding by which guardian or a protector (the conservator) is appointed by a judge to manage the financial affairs and/or daily life of another (the conservatee) due to physical or mental limitations. The conservatorship is established by court order, and the actions of the conservator are strictly governed and monitored by the court. This means that the person appointed the responsibility of taking care of the conservatee has a legal obligation to act on behalf of the conservatee and in their best interest while under the watchful eye of the court.
Many of the actions a conservator may have to take in order to best manage a conservatee’s finances or well-being will have to be approved by the court. Those taken without court approval may sometimes be deemed beyond the conservator’s power. This leaves the conservator in the unenviable position of having to get the court’s permission to do many things that need to be done to fulfill their duty of acting in the conservatee’s best interest. This is very costly and time consuming.
Once in this position, it is very difficult to emancipate yourself from it. The only real ways are for the conservatee to either regain mental capacity or pass away. The first scenario does not happen frequently, and it could be a lengthy amount of time to reach the latter. Therefore, the best way to achieve independence from a conservatorship and court oversight is to plan to avoid it altogether.