Is A Connecticut Conservatorship Right For Your Elderly Loved One?
Conservatorships have surfaced in popular media as of late, but much confusion about mechanism and differences between conservatorships and guardianships remain. Not all states recognize conservatorships and rules can vary drastically between states. In Connecticut, conservatorships serve the unique purpose of providing care for an elderly loved one when they are no longer able to meet their basic needs independently and cannot manage their own affairs. Probate courts grant conservatorships on a limited basis, especially if the petitioner seeks an involuntary conservatorship.
What is Conservatorship?
In Connecticut, two types of conservatorships are observed. The probate court with jurisdiction over the person (the “ward”) must appoint the conservator to either manage the financial or other needs of that person. If a potential conservator petitions the court without the consent of the ward, it is an involuntary conservatorship. Probate courts will only grant an involuntary conservatorship if the petitioner has proven the individual requiring conservatorship is no longer able to care for themselves or handle their own finances. In a voluntary conservatorship, the ward gives consent to the conservator to act on their behalf.
Conservatorship of the Person and of the Estate
Conservatorship of the person means a loved one (usually an adult child) filed a petition to act as conservator over the elderly parent or relative. If there is no objection to the potential conservator’s petition, the court will grant the conservatorship, giving the conservator decision- making authority over the elderly relative. The conservator may also be given decision-making authority over the elder’s personal property and assets as well. In their petition for involuntary conservatorship, the potential conservator must prove that the elder has diminished cognitive, physical or mental ability that makes it difficult to care for themselves. This could be attributed to advanced mental or physical disability. Once a conservator is approved by the court, the conservator can act on the ward’s behalf regarding legal and health care issues.
A conservator of financial affairs supervises the ward’s financial and investment accounts, payment to creditors, handling of monthly or weekly bills, managing intellectual property and other issues concerning the ward’s finances. Because of the potential for misuse or failure to meet fiduciary duties among relatives, rather than a petitioning relative, the court will sometimes appoint an uninterested party as conservator over the person’s estate. The uninterested party might be a financial planner or an attorney. Conservatorship of the estate requires additional duties beyond conservatorship of the person such as preparing an accounting of the ward’s financial state each month and maintaining a budget.
Contact Elder Law Attorney Brian S. Karpe
It can be difficult to process when your loved one’s mental state or physical abilities start to deteriorate, but they need your assistance. Even if a loved one stresses that they do not need your help, it is important to discuss guardianship and life’s events while they are able to indicate their preferences. In addition, if you are in a position where you believe a conservatorship is necessary for your loved one, you should not attempt to file a petition on your own. These matters are complicated by procedural rules you must adhere to. Contact skilled Canton conservatorship lawyer Brian S. Karpe for help.