It can be difficult to petition a conservatorship for your loved one when you’ve heard stories about conservators taking advantage of incapacitated adults. The law system grants the court-appointed worker permission to violate your family member or friend’s civil rights, seeking their ultimate benefit. However, you may have heard TV news stories or online articles where an immoral conservator profited off their conservatee by signing loans to themself, sold estate pieces for personal gain, and committed financial fraud.
These conservatorship abuse stories do occur occasionally, such as with Brittany Spears, but there are guidelines conservators have to follow for open accountability with your family and the courts. A conservator who handles your loved one’s finances through a conservatorship bank account can be extremely helpful, unlike the picture these viral conservatorship cases paint. They can enter any financial situation and bring order, assisting them with future purchases and decision-making with money.
We want to tell you more about conservatorship bank accounts and what conservators of the estate can and cannot do, giving you peace of mind that the law has your back.
What is a Conservatorship Bank Account?
The United States Social Security website defines a conservatorship account as “a financial account in which a person or institution has been appointed by a court to manage and preserve the assets of an individual which are held in the account”. The conservator will hold various financial responsibilities on behalf of the incapacitated adult to restore their financial stability. Their end goal is to make your loved one capable of managing their money again.
When a conservator begins working with a conservatee, they will attach their name to credit and debit lines, estates, and property they own. The name of every account will change to “Conservatorship of [conservatee’s name], [conservator’s name], Conservator of the Estate”. A judge will check these accounts every year with open accountability from strict financial record keeping the conservator must complete.
Responsiblities with a Conservatorship Bank Account
Every account that goes under the new conservatorship bank account has 50/50 ownership, except that the conservator will have complete control of the joint bank account instead of your family member or friend. While managing your loved one’s financial accounts, the courts will order them to upkeep dozens of specific tasks to care for your conservatee’s funds. You can break these meticulous responsibilities into three primary categories that explain how conservators interact with a conservatorship bank account.
A conservator will often find your loved one’s credit and debit accounts in disarray: they could be overloaded with credit, bankrupt, or not contain enough money to feed/clothe the person. They will develop a solid budget and financial plan to prioritize their immediate needs while considering their future debt and credit accumulation. They will also decide how to invest your conservatee’s money if they have excess and protect them from haphazardly spending it, cutting off all access with a judge’s permission.
Another crucial part of stepping into their position is signing the incapacitated adult up for every possible governmental benefit. This power is especially vital if they are broke, where government assistance can stablizie their money. For example, they could be eligible for social security, medical insurance, and Veterans’ administration benefits if they are elderly or served in the military.
Paying Their Bills
With a joint conservatorship bank account, your loved one’s conservator can make considerable progress in restoring their monetary health through filing their taxes and paying their bills on time. They will move forward based on the budget at the beginning of the conservatorship and give you, your family, and the judge complete transparency. That way, you can trust the work they do for your loved one’s benefit rather than doubt their motives.
In addition, they will reclaim any protected assets your loved one lost and use them to help pay outstanding debts, if necessary. Your family member or friend’s conservator will do whatever it takes to provide lasting financial stability and compromise their temporary comfort for future freedom with their money.
The court-appointed conservator must provide accurate records for any and all actions they decide through the conservatorship bank account. The law takes your concerns for unethical conservators as seriously as you do and will punish them to the fullest extent of the law if they do not comply. Interested parties and the courts will receive regular financial reports for open accountability, giving you peace of mind that the conservator’s real intent is to care for your loved one.
One of the most productive tasks they do for financial record keeping is updating and revising your loved one’s list of estate assets. Not only can you or a probate lawyer cross-reference financial records to figures in the conservatorship bank account, but you all can perform the same comparison for assets. You can become aware of patterns when assets that are written on the conservator’s list disappear from your loved one’s control.
Limits to a Conservatorship Bank Account
Although courts approve conservators several legal powers that void an incapacitated person’s civil rights, there are legislative checks to prevent them from taking advantage of them. They love and care for your family member or friend the same way you do and therefore establish limits on the conservatorship joint account.
- A conservator cannot add their assets to the incapacitated adult’s assets
- A conservator cannot loan a third party or themself funds from the conservatorship bank account
- A conservator cannot perform any reckless or risky investments with your loved one’s funds
- A conservator cannot compensate an attorney or themself from the conservatorship bank account without court supervision
We Keep Conservators Accountable
Our team believes conservators of the estate are excellent resources for your loved one to regain financial freedom and obtain a fresh start with their money. Contrary to hot news stories, we trust the legal system and its mission to assist rather than harm incapacitated adults. There can be potential challenges with immoral conservators, but most conservatorship arrangements result in your family member or friend’s benefit.
If you are still worried about putting your incapacitated adult under the authority of someone you don’t trust, our firm can be an extra pair of eyes when you notice shady patterns. We have the expertise to recognize when a conservator is misbehaving and an entire team of talented lawyers who can be a force in the probate court. Our team can inform you of future conservatorship costs and how your loved one can best navigate them.
To receive a free consultation on your case and give us an opportunity to earn your trust, reach out to us via phone at (800).840.1998. We can also assist you in deciding between other probate options too, including a durable power of attorney and regular estate planning.