Elder Law Lawyer Abingdon, VA
When someone is no longer able to take care of themselves or their finances, the court may appoint a conservator to manage their affairs. If that person had a signed durable power of attorney for health care and finances already in place, that individual will not need the court-appointed conservator because the person listed in the power of attorney will automatically assume those responsibilities. It’s important to understand what your estate planning documents (and/or the estate planning documents of your elderly loved ones) provide for, so that you aren’t surprised in the event that this kind of transition becomes necessary. Working with an experienced Abingdon, VA estate planning lawyer from The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt can help to ensure that every transition of this type is intentional and in the best interests of the individual most directly affected by it.
If there is no power of attorney in place, then loved ones must go to court in order to select a guardian or conservator. An Abingdon, Virginia elder law lawyer with experience in conservatorships can answer any questions and work on your behalf to see that the best-suited person is entrusted with the responsibilities that go along with being a conservator.
There are two types of conservatorships:
Conservator of the estate — This person will be in charge of the financials.
Conservator of the person — This person is charged with handling all medical and personal decisions.
One person can be selected to manage both types of conservatorships. Some people may need just one type of conservatorship, while someone suffering from Alzheimer’s, in a coma, or other very serious illness will be appointed conservatorships for both.
In all best case scenarios, the person in need of assistance has planned ahead and worked with an Abingdon, VA elder law lawyer to create a durable power of attorney so that if they are unable to care for themselves in any way, this document is activated and the person listed takes over the care of the incapacitated individual instead of a conservator appointed by the court. When possible, conservatorships should generally be avoided in favor of self-selected power of attorney arrangements. Why?
- Conservatorships can be costly and are very time-consuming. It will necessitate the use of an attorney on an ongoing basis and may involve several court hearings. There is a lot of paperwork involved a the conservator needs to keep organized records and routinely file papers in court.
- Conservators are paid from the conservatee’s assets which could get very costly.
- Any paperwork filed in court or proceedings become public record and available for anyone to see.
- A bond must be posted by the conservator in charge of finances to protect the estate of the conservatee from being mishandled. This premium is expensive and paid for out of the assets of the conservatee.
- In order to protect the assets of the conservatee, the court supervises the work of the conservator. The conservator is required to submit reports documenting all their activity. In addition, before making major financial or health-related decisions, the conservator must request permission from the court.
What Happens if a Conservator Abuses Their Power
Even with all the safeguards with the court in place, there are instances where the conservator makes inappropriate decisions regarding the health of the conservatee or mismanages their assets. Every state has procedures in place to help prevent these things from happening, however, few states have the means available to observe the conservators or take action if they suspect foul play.
How Does a Conservatorship End?
The court has to issue an order that ends the conservatorship. Common reasons for this termination include:
- Death of the conservatee
- Conservatee doesn’t need the assistance of a conservator
- The conservatee no longer has any assets and does not need a financial conservatorship
- Someone else takes over the duties because the original conservator resigns
If you have questions concerning conservatorships, please don’t hesitate to connect with an Abingdon, VA elder law lawyer today.