What is a Conservatorship?

In some jurisdictions, a conservatorship may be referred to as a "guardianship of the estate", or by some similar alternative name.

A conservatorship is a legal appointment through the courts. It gives an individual (the conservator) the legal authority to make decisions over someone’s (the protected person) assets.

There are many circumstances where an individual is still able to live an independent life, but may require assistance with their assets due to failing health or disability. Therefore it is not unusual for a petition to be made for the appointment of a conservator, even where the allegedly protected person does not require a guardian.

When is a Conservatorship necessary?

It may be necessary to petition a court to appoint a legal conservator for individuals:

  • Who have physical or mental problems that prevent them from managing their own financial affairs
  • Who have no individual already legally authorized to assume responsibility for them
  • Where other kinds of assistance with financial management will not adequately protect them

What are a Conservator's Duties?

The first duty of a conservator is to take an inventory of the legally incapacitated individual's assets and to report these assets to the court.

The conservator:

  • must open a separate custodial checking account reflecting the conservatorship (e.g. in the name of John Doe, as Conservator for the Estate of James Smith);.
  • accept all income for the individual into this custodial account and made all payment for the legally incapacitated individual from this account;
  • collect all debts owed to the legally incapicated individual;
  • manage all investments, business ownerships, insurances and make decisions on the sale of assets (e.g. home) not being used by the individual - with court authority is necessary;
  • file an annual report to the court and all interested parties attaching copies of all beginning and ending banking and investment account.
  • If the legally incapacitated individual is capable of participating in financial decisions, the conservator is ordinarily required to permit the legally incapacitated individual to participate to the extent they are able.