When A Conservatorship Is Needed
If you become incapacitated during your lifetime and are unable to manage your financial and/or personal affairs (or forget where your parked your car even though it’s in the driveway), the court can step in to appoint someone to take control of all of your assets and personal affairs.
At Norton Basu LLP we know these can be difficult times. We are here to make this process easier for you and your family by explaining what is needed and how to get it. We can assist you every step of the way.
Different Terms For Different Roles
The person appointed by the court is called the conservator. The incapacitated person is called the conservatee. This process is called a probate conservatorship.
If a court appoints someone to take care of only financial matters, that person is usually referred to as “conservator of the estate.” On the other hand, if the court appoints someone to make medical and personal decisions they are usually called “conservator of the person.” Often times, the person appointed to these positions is a relative of the incapacitated person, however, in certain cases it will be a court-appointed private fiduciary.
The court appointed conservator must file strict annual accountings with the probate court and those accountings must account for every last penny. As you can imagine, this entire process is expensive, time-consuming, and for the incapacitated person it can often be humiliating.
Does Joint Tenancy Avoid Conservatorship?
No. In a joint tenancy both parties have to sign the documents. So if one person or “party” is not able to then these matters will have to be put aside until the probate court takes control. When the probate court becomes involved they becomes essentially the “joint owner” acting on behalf of the incapacitated person. The court will have this power until the disabled owner either is able to resume their duties (for example, recovers after a stroke) or dies.
Does Having A Will Avoid Conservatorship?
No. A will becomes activated upon your death. Your last will and testament has no control over events during your life.
Does A Revocable Living Trust Avoid Conservatorship?
Yes. This is the design and benefits of a living trust, it protects you and your assets while you are alive. This is one of the reasons people create a living trust. We know that as we age it’s likely that we could become incapacitated in an accident or during an illness. We also know that if we live long enough we will probably experience mentally decline. A living trust means that there is a plan in place for if and when these things happen. A living trust also means we can have our family avoid probate court and the conservatorship process.
Get The Guidance And Answers You Need
While the conservatorship process is not one any of us look forward to, it can be done smoothly when you know what to expect. We can help you through this so that your loved one gets the care and services they need and your family can rest easy. Call 408-520-1712 and speak to us today. You can also get in touch with us via our website contact email.