A conservator is a court-appointed guardian over an adult when they cannot manage their own financial, legal, or medical affairs. Typically, that individual does not have the ability to make decisions for themselves. Often the individual either is developmentally disabled or has a kind of dementia.
There are different types of guardianships:
- Person Only – Healthcare
- Property Only – Financial
- Person and Property – Healthcare and Financial
The judge will decide what type is most appropriate for the individual. And once the court is involved, it remains involved. The court will continue oversight of the conservatorship through yearly reporting.
How is that different from a Power of Attorney?
A power of attorney (POA) is a person who makes financial and/or healthcare decisions for someone else, but a POA is chosen by that individual. The individual has a choice of who will make decisions on their behalf and often shares their preferences and concerns with that person.
This is different from a conservator who is chosen by a court of law. The individual does not have a voice in who is chosen or how they will make their decisions.
How does that process get started?
Someone must file a petition with the court. Anyone can do that, but just know that the process can be difficult. The person filing the petition is in an adversarial role to the individual. It is stripping them of any legal right to make decisions. Then doctors must be called in to declare the person unable to make sound decisions. If the conservatorship is contested, the process can be time-consuming.
The Better Option
Creating a POA for both finances and healthcare is the better option. This means that the individual has a choice. Usually when the situation gets to the point of requesting a conservator from the court, it means that the person no longer has capacity and important decisions need to be made. The court process can be long and expensive. Also, those decisions can often be in opposition to the individual, and the person appointed does not know the individual and his wishes.
We Can Help
The good news is that you have options, and more options are available to you the earlier that you start your planning. Please let us help you to evaluate your individual needs and develop a plan that will give you peace of mind for whatever comes your way.
For more information, contact our Lebanon, TN office at 615-444-3568 and schedule your appointment today.