Simply put, appointing a conservator (or entering a conservatorship) is done through the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court. The court will appoint a person (commonly called a Conservator) to make specific critical decisions that your aging parent or mentally or physically handicapped loved one can no longer make for themselves.
In most cases, the main difference between guardianship and conservatorship relates to the person’s role in your incapacitated individual’s daily life.
A court-appointed guardian commonly manages your loved one’s medical and residential matters. In contrast, the conservator manages more of their financial issues, such as real estate and other types of property and assets.
Although each case of this type is unique in its scope of oversight, most always the power of a limited conservatorship is to arrange for your loved ones’ adequate housing, health care, dietary decisions, personal daily care (including housekeeping, etc.), their transportation, recreation, and more.
Also, a conservatorship may be mandatory for loved ones who don’t have a power of attorney or healthcare directive of any type. At one time, an aging parent or relative may have possessed the ability to make critical medical and financial decisions for themselves. However, that time may have passed, and they could be a danger to themselves (physically or financially) without the help of a conservatorship.
There are myriad reasons that a conservatorship may be needed, such as an invalid or fraudulent power of attorney document or an unscrupulous guardian or family member having taken over their finances.
If, and when, the time comes and your aging parent or loved one can noticeably not take care of themselves, a court-appointed conservator may prove invaluable in their lives.
You must note that a conservator is mandated to care for and protect your loved one after a Massachusetts judge decides that the person can no longer manage their life alone.
Making decisions to form a conservatorship is never easy and is usually filled with emotion and stress. Consulting with a knowledgeable, empathetic Worcester elder law attorney will objectively provide all the answers to your questions and give you needed legal guidance to move forward with confidence, knowing that you’re doing the best for your loved one.
What Are the Main Duties of a Conservatory?
Finding the right person for this job is also essential and is commonly an easy job. Also, it can be a time-consuming job for the conservator, and that must always be considered.
Some of the primary duties of a court-appointed conservator are:
- They serve as fiduciaries for your loved one and manage their property, but only as authorized by the court.
- They usually will encourage your loved one to participate in vital decisions and attempt to act on their behalf. This allows your loved ones to regain their ability to manage their property and business matters, too, to some extent.
- They inform the court of your loved one’s address change if necessary.
- They inform the court if the protected person dies and files a valid death certificate and a final accounting.
- And much more.
Each situation differs, and so do the conservator’s duties. Your experienced elder law lawyer will provide invaluable guidance to ensure that the conservators’ oversight and powers are adequate but not open to abuse.
Does Conservatorship Abuse Exist and What Should I Do If It’s Suspected?
Unfortunately, abuse by a conservator does occur, and if it’s even suspected, your elder law attorney will be able to assist you in proving and doing something about it.
In some cases, relatives and friends could have seen someone they love harmed and suffering due to a conservator’s greed and malice.
Depending on the scope and various circumstances, a conservator can be proven to have performed questionable behavior. At first, their decisions and behavior may appear delicate, but deeper down, you may suspect or know something isn’t right. In past cases, relatives, witnesses, and even closed-circuit cameras will catch outright physical or emotional abuse.
Even with incomplete data, if you suspect anything is wrong, you should immediately consult with your experienced elder law attorney.
Action must be taken, even if you are wrong, the circumstances must be analyzed, and your lawyer will petition Massachusetts’s courts to halt injustices perpetrated against your loved one immediately.
What Are Some Signs That My Loved One May Need a Conservatorship?
As hard as it is to watch, your parents and relatives age and may become mentally or physically unable to oversee their financial affairs on their own. At first, you may see subtle signs that these decisions are becoming more difficult for them to make.
Consulting with an experienced, thorough Worcester elder law attorney will help to guide you in when and how this decision must be made.
However, there are some signs that you can look for, such as:
- Compromised decision-making ability – It’s hard to be objective, but initially, you may see small examples of their difficulty in making decisions about assets, property, money management, etc.
- Evidence of undue influence – Your aging parent may already have a guardian who helps with everyday tasks, but this can be abused. It’s sad, but unscrupulous individuals may unduly influence your loved one and coerce them into allowing access to funds or worse.
- Disagreement over financial decisions – Your aging relative deserves the right to make their own financial decisions, but that may become impossible. Admittedly, specific medical conditions can interfere with their ability to make these choices, such as Alzheimer’s, eventually leading to someone else managing their assets, etc.
In every case, it’s never an easy decision to make, but most definitely a mandatory one.
Obtaining the legal guidance of a knowledgeable, empathetic, and professional Worcester conservatorship law firm will be invaluable in helping you make this decision and will do so as objectively as possible. It’s mandatory to remember that when the time comes, you usually must pursue conservatorship to safeguard your aging relative’s fiscal interests.
I Feel I May Need To Consider a Conservatorship; How Should I Proceed?
Suppose a medical condition is involved, or you begin to see the signs that a family member is having difficulty making financial decisions. In that case, you must discuss this dire situation with a Worcester elder law attorney.
Your aging parent or a relative may desperately need this help, but your emotions and love may blind you to the truth. Also, even considering appointing a conservator can be a sobering, stressful decision.
It’s vital not to attempt to make these decisions alone. Obtain the professional, empathetic, and objective advice of your Worcester elder law firm to ascertain what is best for all concerned.
Don’t wait until financial ruin or harm forces this decision; obtain the professional legal knowledge to ensure everyone’s rights are protected and served.