Are you seeking information about conservatorships to avoid liability? Or are you concerned that abuse is taking place by a current guardian? In either case, it is essential to understand conservatorship and the duties and powers of conservators.
A conservator may be a family member caring for a loved one who cannot care for themselves. However, whether or not they are family, they must be appointed by the court. It is essential to understand the duties involved in ensuring appropriate care of the conservatee.
A judge legally appoints a conservatorship (also known as a guardianship) through a court proceeding. The purpose is to care for an incapacitated adult who cannot manage their own personal or financial affairs. This adult who does not have capacity is known as the conservatee. A conservator (also known as an adult guardian) is the individual or entity appointed to manage their affairs.
What Authority and Responsibilities Does a Conservator Have?
Have you been appointed to serve as a conservator and guardian? You are likely concerned about understanding your duties and obligations in caring for a conservatee. Guardians have a financial responsibility (just like powers of attorney).
They must make sure all decisions are made in the best interest of the conservatee. This can include decisions made for their person, their estate, or both. In some cases, there may be two guardians. One may be responsible for handling the finances and the other may be responsible for the personal care.
A limited conservatorship may also be established for the purposes of advising an adult who has some developmental disabilities. This will allow the conservatee to lead a more independent life. Limited conservators will usually assist with making major life decisions.
Guardians are not allowed to use a conservatee’s assets for their own personal financial gain or care. They are generally not required to pay out of pocket for the conservatees’ needs. Still, they can only utilize the conservatees’ assets to ensure the conservatees’ personal or financial needs are covered. This can include hiring a tax professional or real estate agent throughout the management of the estate.
Duties of a Conservator of the Person
If you are a conservator of the person, your duties involve managing the conservatee’s personal life, which may include:
- Making appropriate living arrangements
- Assisting with personal care
- Coordinating necessary healthcare
- Providing meals
- Ensuring they have adequate clothing
- Arranging housekeeping services
- Providing transportation
- Arranging for recreation
Guardians of the person are responsible for ensuring a better quality of life. This is done by making sure that the personal needs are met.
Duties of a Conservator of the Estate
Another type of guardian is a conservator of the estate. The duties for this role include handling the following:
- Managing the finances of the conservatee, including benefits such as social security
- Locating and protecting assets
- Collecting the conservatee’s income
- Creating a budget
- Paying bills and other necessary expenses
- Making investments for the conservatee
Guardians should keep extensive records of all duties performed for the estate. They may not use a conservatee’s assets for their own personal gain or well-being. Because of this, keeping a record will help prevent liability.
Along with those duties listed above, conservators are responsible for reporting to the court through means including:
- Inventory of assets
- Periodic accountancy
- Final accounting (this would be at the end of the guardianship)
They should also report to any interested parties throughout the guardianship.
Do Conservators Receive Compensation?
Under California law, conservators can receive reasonable compensation for their services. This compensation is paid from the estate of the conservatee. However, because many guardians are family members, they often do not seek compensation for the care of a loved one.
Need Help with a Conservatorship? Contact the Legacy Lawyers.
A guardian must do everything for the conservatee’s personal and economic interests. They are prohibited from engaging in risky behavior with the conservatee’s money. They are also forbidden from commingling assets with their own or changing the conservatee’s estate planning documents.
We can help with conservatorships for a person, an estate, or both. Our attorneys have handled a wide array of guardianship issues. They have even worked on some highly publicized cases involving celebrities.
At The Legacy Lawyers, we are dedicated to your peace of mind. We are here to help you and will walk you through the process from beginning to end. Schedule your no-cost consultation now by calling (714) 963-7543.
*This article is for information purposes only and does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. It should not be substituted for legal advice.