A conservatorship is a way for a responsible and trustworthy person to take over another person’s financial affairs. The person might be a minor, incapacitated due to a developmental disability, suffering from mental health or addiction issues, or developing age-related cognitive impairments. Conservatorship is a way to ensure the person’s money is used to support them and provide the care they need.
A Manhattan conservatorship lawyer could explain a conservator’s responsibilities and help you through the process. When you want to contest the appointment of a conservator, our attorneys could support you in retaining control of your affairs. Contact one of our dedicated estate planning attorneys when you believe establishing a conservatorship would be in the best interests of a loved one, or when you would like to hand over your affairs to a conservator.
Duties and Responsibilities of a Conservator
The conservator is a person, multiple persons, or an institution like a bank that the court appoints to manage the financial affairs of an incapacitated person. The person whose affairs are being managed is called the conservatee.
The court’s order establishing the conservatorship will spell out the conservator’s rights and duties. They might have access to specific accounts that they must use to pay the conservatee’s living expenses, or they might have access to all the conservatee’s property and must manage it for their benefit. Typical duties of a conservator include:
- Paying the conservatee’s valid debts
- Collecting debts owed to the conservatee
- Paying the conservatee’s reasonable living expenses
- Insuring the conservatee’s property against theft or other loss
A conservator could also initiate legal action on the conservatee’s behalf in some cases; for example, if the conservatee was the victim of a financial fraud or scam.
A conservator works under court supervision. They must take an instructional course before assuming their duties and usually must post a bond, which is an insurance policy against them mishandling the conservatee’s money. A conservator must catalog the conservatee’s property and make periodic reports to the court showing how they are managing the conservatee’s affairs. A Manhattan attorney could advise a conservator on preparing and presenting the reports to the court.
Process of Appointing a Conservator
When family members or loved ones decide someone needs a conservator, they begin the process by asking a Manhattan attorney to file a petition with the court. The petition describes the condition of the proposed conservatee and why they need a conservator. It describes the property the conservator manages, proposes a conservator, and discloses any potential conflicts of interest they might have.
Kansas Statute Annotated § 59-3064 requires that a professional certify that the proposed conservatee is unable to handle their finances themselves because of a physical or mental impairment. The court will order an appropriate professional, who could be a physician, psychologist, social worker, or specialist in developmental disorders, to examine the proposed conservatee and issue a report.
If the only reason for requesting conservatorship is that the proposed conservatee is a minor, the examination may not be necessary. In addition, the facts and supporting documents in the petition are sometimes enough to persuade the court of the need for a conservatorship without the need for an independent examination.
Contesting a Conservatorship
When a court receives a petition to establish a conservatorship, the judge will appoint an attorney for the proposed conservatee. The conservatee can object to the proposed conservator or contest the need for a conservatorship.
The proposed conservatee can ask for a jury trial or agree to a trial before a judge only. They also can seek another evaluation from an appropriately credentialed professional regarding the need for a conservator.
A conservatee also could bring an action to have a conservator removed if they believe the conservator is mishandling their money or using their position for personal gain. A Manhattan attorney could assist a conservatee who wants to remove or replace their conservator.
Reach Out to a Manhattan Attorney on Conservatorship Issues
When your loved one needs a conservator, you will need help navigating the legal process. If someone is trying to establish a conservatorship over your objection, or if you believe your conservator is not acting in your best interest, you will need skilled legal representation.
A Manhattan conservatorship lawyer could help you find a workable solution when you are facing any issues concerning conservatorship. Call today to schedule a consultation and get started.