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Understanding a conservatorship

Life has many challenges and unforeseeable circumstances which significantly impact our lives. As such, it becomes imperative to take measures that will not prevent the detrimental effects of such challenges but also safeguard your interests. Legally speaking, a conservatorship is one of the legal safeguards that you may take to this effect.

Essentially, conservatorship sets out to help individuals dealing with mounting medical, financial, and mental health needs. On top of that, conservatorship has been deemed effective in situations where individuals become incapacitated in some way that prevents them from making rational or important life decisions. Britney Spears, for example, has lived under conservatorship for more than a decade.

Having said that, here is what you need to know about conservatorship.

What is Conservatorship?

Put simply, a conservatorship is a legal safeguard in the form of legal guardianship of an adult. Essentially, a conservator has legal authority over relevant aspects of their conservatee's life.

In simple terms, the law confers authority on the conservator to make decisions on behalf of the conservatee. It is fundamental to note that these decisions primarily focus on the best interests of the conservatee rather than the conservatory.

Common Types of Conservatorship

There are various types of conservatorship. Put briefly, the classification of conservatorship is based on the goals that the parties set out to achieve.

The following is a brief classification of the common types of conservatorship:

Conservatorship by Type

General: As the name suggests, general conservatorship covers most aspects of the conservatee. In this case, the court grants the conservator authority to make decisions pertaining to the conservator's physical and financial life.

Limited: It only focuses on a few aspects of the conservator's life. Oftentimes, the conservator is granted authority to make decisions pertaining to specific needs of the conservatee in cases where the conservatee is mentally disabled but is under guardianship.

Financial: This type of conservatorship typically focuses on the financial aspects. The conservator is tasked with making sound investment decisions or maintaining the conservatee's property. Noteworthy is the fact that financial conservatorship takes place even though the conservatee has physical autonomy.

Physical: This type of conservatorship pertains to the health of the conservatee. In essence, the conservator is granted authority to make decisions in relation to the medical and health life of the conservatee.

Conservatorship by Duration

This classification is based on the timeframe in which the conservatorship is legally operative.

Short term: This tends to be the most common type of conservatorship. It can last up to 90 days and often comes into play when the conservatee becomes unexpectedly incapacitated.

Temporary: This type of conservatorship lasts for only a limited amount of time and under limited conditions. For example, if a person goes into a comma, the court may grant temporary conservatorship until a time when the conservatee wakes up.

Permanent: This type of conservatorship is expected to last throughout the conservatee's life. However, an individual may apply to the court to rescind permanent conservatorship.

What are the Benefits of a Conservatorship?

There are many benefits that you and your loved ones can derive from a conservatorship. For example, a conservatorship will:

  • Allow you to focus on other needs and, at the same time, give you peace of mind because someone is taking care of and safeguarding your interests.
  • Give you legal authority to deal with these parties on behalf of your dead ones.
  • Creates a firm foundation for approval of different processes through the help of a judge.

Who is eligible for Conservatorship?

Legally speaking, a conservatorship is granted when it is established that an individual is incapacitated, thus unable to make rational decisions on their behalf. To determine whether an individual is eligible for conservatorship, the court sets out to determine whether an individual knows and understands their actions.

That said, a conservatorship may be granted if a person:

  • Is in a coma or totally incapacitated
  • Suffers from a mental illness such as dementia
  • Has a permanent or genetic disability.

Need help?

If your loved one suffers from a serious condition that impairs their ability to make rational decisions, they may be eligible for conservatorship. Essentially, a conservatorship may be the most viable option for your family.

However, establishing a conservatorship isn't an easy process. You will need the help of an attorney to create and maintain ongoing paperwork and, at the same time, help you understand the law governing conservatorship.

Contact the firm of James C. Shields to schedule a free case evaluation.