Appointment of Conservator

Conservatorship is a legal concept in the United States. A guardian or a protector is appointed by a judge to manage the financial affairs and/or daily life of another due to physical or mental limitations, or old age. A person under conservatorship is a "conservatee," a term that can refer to an adult. A person under guardianship is a "ward," a term that can also refer to a minor child.

The conservator may be only of the "estate" (financial affairs), but may be also of the "person," wherein the conservator takes charge of overseeing the daily activities, such as health care or living arrangements of the conservatee. A conservator of the person is more typically called a legal guardian.

Conservatorship is established either by court order (with regard to individuals) or via a statutory or regulatory authority (with regard to organizations such as business entities). In other legal terms, a conservatorship may refer to the legal responsibilities over a person who is mentally disordered, including individuals who are psychotic, suicidal, demented, incapacitated, or in some other way unable to make legal, medical or financial decisions on behalf of themselves.

When referring to government control of private corporations such as Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae, conservatorship implies a more temporary control than does nationalization.

Conservatorship is a legal term referring to the legal responsibilities of a conservator over the affairs of a person who has been deemed gravely disabled by the court and unable to meet his or her basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter. They are governed by the state's individual laws. Terminology varies, and some states or jurisdictions may refer to a conservator as a guardian of the estate or as a trustee.

Conservatorships are generally put in place for severely mentally ill individuals who are gravely disabled, elderly individuals with dementia or Alzheimer's disease who lack mental capacity, or individuals with developmental disabilities who may or may not lack mental capacity. Mental capacity normally must to be evaluated by a medical physician or a psychiatrist experienced in the field and is documented and provided to the court as evidence.

A "limited conservatorship" usually refers to the limited legal responsibilities of a conservator over the affairs of an individual who is developmentally disabled, but still capable of making important decisions for himself or herself. In these cases, the conservatee to whom the limited conservatorship applies can retain more control over his or her personal affairs than other conservatees can; for example, he or she may retain his or her right to decide where he or she may live.

An example of a conservator's duties includes: locating and marshalling assets, such as property and money, which belong to the conservatee; using the assets to buy food for the conservatee, secure and pay for placement in a facility which would take care of the conservatee or treat a mental illness, pay bills for the conservatee, manage property by paying for property insurance, mortgage payments or rent, property clean-up, or pay for a property management company to rent the property. An example of a conservator or guardian's medical responsibilities would be the court granting medical authority to the conservator or guardian, and the conservator or guardian authorizing a physician to place a feeding tube to provide nourishment into the protected person's stomach if they are in medical need of it. It is not uncommon for one person to hold both offices and be referred to as the "guardian and conservator" of the conservatee, even though a conservator or guardian can be appointed over the person only, the estate only, or both. Generally, a conservator or guardian over the estate is only appointed if the conservatee has assets that need to be protected, marshalled, and managed. These terms may be found in use in U.P.C. jurisdictions, even though the U.P.C. uses the term "protected person" in either case.

In most states, an outside party or agency must review the facts of the case and submit a report, usually required to be in writing, to the court before the court makes a decision on the request to establish a conservatorship or guardianship. Usually the outside party is a local County Mental Health representative called an investigator. They are often required to be experts in some appropriate field, such as social work, mental health, a medical field, or law. Procedures for conservatorship of an adult are often different from those for minors.

The court may appoint an attorney to represent the proposed conservatee or ward. If the proposed conservatee or ward is unable to have an attorney-client relationship because of some impairment, the court may appoint a guardian-ad-litem (who is often also an attorney). A guardian-ad-litem does not take instruction from the client, but rather acts on their behalf and tells the court what they think is in the best interests of the proposed conservatee or ward, whether or not that is what the proposed conservatee or ward wants. The conservatee has the right to be represented by an attorney, and if they cannot afford a private attorney, they are appointed a public defender that will represent them free of cost.

This information is not intended to be tax or legal advice, and it may not be relied 
on for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. You are encouraged to seek 
tax or legal advice from an independent professional advisor.