Do you know what a conservator is? Do you know how a conservatorship works? Do you know who can petition to be your conservator? If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” then read on because you should know.
In most states, there are two types of control a person can seek over another person, known as the “ward.” A guardian has control of the person and makes decisions like where the person will live. A conservator has control over the estate of the ward and can make decisions about things like how money is spent.
An involuntary conservatorship happens when someone petitions the court to be your conservator, and you have not agreed to the arrangement. You do have the right to object to the appointment, but over 90 percent of all petitions for an involuntary conservatorship are granted.
Frequently, anyone over the age of 18 and of sound mind can petition to be your conservator. The court must find that you need a conservator and that the petitioner is qualified for the position before the conservatorship is approved. Once approved, the conservator will have the legal authority to pay your bills, withdraw funds, and even sell assets in many cases.
If this doesn’t sound like something you want to happen, take the time now to prevent the possibility. Talk to your estate planning attorney about alternatives that allow you to decide who will control your estate if you are ever in the position where you are no longer able to do so yourself.
Pyke & Associates, P.C. is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.