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Law Lingo: Conservator

Welcome to Law Lingo: a monthly blog series brought to you by The Brown Law Firm, LLC that explains estate planning terminologies in simple terms. This month we will explain conservator.

In this case, a conservator is not someone who helps protect, repair or preserve works of art or other cultural objects (although, that is one definition of the word). In the estate planning realm, a conservator is a person who is appointed by the courts to manage the financial affairs and estate of an adult who is physically or mentally unable to handle these duties on their own. A conservator can also be appointed for a minor who has assets titled in their name.

Reasons for Incapacity

A person can be deemed incapacitated after a stroke, brain injury, accident, etc. This situation can also occur if the person suffers from mental illness or  dementia. The person does not have to be in a coma or unable to physically move or speak; a conservator may be needed even if the person can still somewhat function in society but may still be incapable of handling finances properly.

Who Do Courts Appoint as Conservators?

The courts try to identify the most reasonable person to act as a conservator. This might be a spouse, parent, adult child, distant relatives, close family friend or a professional fiduciary.

A conservator is appointed when an incapacitated person did not complete a financial power of attorney or if the use of the power of attorney to manage the affairs of the protected person is no longer viable.  The conservator is responsible for keeping detailed records of all transactions and  filing annual reports with the court which outlines all transactions. While this is definitely time-consuming, it is essential to protect the incapacitated person’s property.

Duties of a Conservator

Being named a conservator is a huge responsibility. Before you accept this appointment, make sure you have the time to devote to handling these duties for another person as well as for your own family situation:

  • Paying bills
  • Selling real estate (with permission from the courts)
  • Purchasing property
  • Filing taxes
  • Managing investments
  • Filing annual reports with the court

Conservators may receive reasonable compensation for their duties and be reimbursed for any expenses incurred while performing this role. Payment is made from the protected person’s assets.  .

Still confused by conservatorship or any other legal terms? Interested in talking to an conservatorship attorney? The Denver protective proceeding lawyers at The Brown Law Firm, LLC are here to help. Even if you just want to ask questions to find out if we are the right fit for you, contact us at (303) 339-3750 or send us a message online to meet with our experts.