Is it better to have a professional conservator?
Just one example: Julie Robertson had an estate valued at $900,000. At 65 she suffered a stroke that rendered her incapable of looking after her personal and financial affairs. She lacked a sufficient estate plan so the judge appointed a conservator to make decisions on her behalf. Julie’s children couldn’t agree on who should be appointed, so in haste the judge appointed a private professional fiduciary (PPF). Neither Julie nor her children knew the PPF.
Julie could have stayed at her personal residence with the assistance of nursing care, but the PPF placed her in a private board and care facility at a cost of $5,000 a month. The estate also paid the PPF $175 a hour for her services. Most of Julie’s assets were tied up in real property. To pay expenses, the PPF sold Julie’s personal residence. Proceeds were placed in a brokerage account and managed by the PPF’s broker. Julie lost control over her finances. Whenever her children tried to stop the PPF, the PPF threatened to use more estate money to retain litigation counsel.
During visits, Julie told her children she was upset at the PPF. Staff at the facility repeated her comment to the PPF. The PPF accused the children of making their mother upset and significantly limited their visits. Julie now feels like she’s been imprisoned. This is a true story.
This situation did not have to happen! If the children or Julie realized they had options to file a removal petition or if the children sought to act as a temporary conservator, or filed an objection this episode would not have sunk to such a deep problem for Julie and her family.