There are several situations where someone may be classified as a protected person when it comes to conservatorships in Colorado:
- An adult who has become incapacitated due to a disease or injury. This could be a mental or physical disability that renders the person unable to communicate and/or function to be able to make decisions on their own.
- A minor (someone under age 21) who has parents who are deceased or who has significant assets in his or her name.
Because a protected person cannot fully care for themselves, it is important that someone step in to help. The courts will appoint a conservator to fill this role: a family member, close friend or a professional fiduciary who will be responsible for managing the financial affairs and property on behalf of the protected person.
The exact duties of the conservator can range, depending on the protected person’s age, mental capacities and physical disabilities. The conservator will pay bills, file taxes, buy/sell property and perform other financial duties. However, the responsibilities may become much larger if the protected person is in need of additional care. For example, the courts may also ask the conservator to act as the guardian (or appoint a different person as guardian) to handle responsibilities such as providing shelter, food, clothing, education, social interaction, medical care and other basic necessities.
Even though a different person is taking over the financial and/or everyday life duties, the protected person has the right to privacy as well as access to all of their records and documents. The protected person also has the right to voice their opinion on issues surrounding their estate, medical care and lifestyle. The conservator and/or guardian should listen to all reasonable requests and try to accommodate those wishes if it is in the protected person’s best interests.
The courts will be the one who formally appoints a conservator or guardian for a protected person but you have the ability to nominate who you want to serve in these roles by planning ahead for these types of situations by designating an agent under medical or financial powers of attorney and/or guardians in your will to act as your safety net.
If you would like to set up a comprehensive estate plan, modify an existing will or if you have a loved one or friend who may need protection, the Denver estate planning attorneys at Brown & Crona, LLC can help. To learn more about these processes, please contact us at (303) 339-3750 or send us a message online.