The law becomes involved when it is time to decide if a conservator is a necessary measure. A conservator is a person appointed by court to make healthcare and financial decisions for another person when he or she is unable to make them on his or her own due to an illness, injury or disability. This process can get a little more complicated than appointing a guardian, whom is only responsible for healthcare and other decisions not involving finances. All of these decisions are based off of the medical condition(s) of the person needing help.
Erin with Stone & Sallus Law emphasizes, “In most cases seeking a conservator, the medical condition of an individual is commonly a serious, biological brain disorder.” Examples of these illnesses would be manic/clinical depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, dementia or Alzheimer’s. The individual must be deemed unable to make these decisions for him or her self due to mental state. The process begins with taking the individual to a psychiatrist to decipher whether or not they are gravely disabled. If the individual refuses to test, there are ways to set up an involuntary exam to get them the help they need. Once the conclusion is reached that a conservator may be a necessity, it is passed on to court.
Erin adds, “The court’s first choice for a conservator would be an immediate family member. However, if the individual needing help doesn’t have immediate family willing or available to serve, a friend or specially trained attorney can be appointed. During the trial, anyone may object the person potentially being appointed for the conservatorship in general. Whomever is aiming to be appointed has the right to an attorney- if they choose to have one, will be asked questions by him or her in front of the judge.” If an attorney is not hired, they can simply explain why they feel they are qualified to be conservator.
If it is decided upon that the individual is incapacitated and the person willing to be conservator is appointed, the appointee is usually required to post a bond. This bond is to protect the ill individual’s asset’s from being mishandled. Once it is said and done, the conservator will keep the job until the individual dies, doesn’t need him or her anymore, or cannot handle the responsibility- in which case a different conservator will have to be appointed.
To summarize , if an individual’s medical condition prohibits them from making financial decisions on their own, it may be time to look into a conservatorship. It can be a lengthy process, but every case is different and can lead to getting the individual the proper help.