What is a conservator?
A conservator is appointed by the court to manage a protected person’s property. A protected person is someone who is clinically diagnosed to be unable to manage property, and whose property may be wasted unless a conservator is appointed.
The Massachusetts Probate and Family Court has jurisdiction over conservatorship proceedings, under Part 4 of Mass. General Laws, Chapter 190B, the Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code.
A petition for conservatorship must be filed with a medical certificate, signed by a qualified medical expert, indicating that the individual’s capacity is so impaired that a conservator is needed to avoid waste, dissipation or financial exploitation.
After appointment, a conservator must file an inventory in the court, listing all of the protected person’s finances and property. The conservator must also file annual accounts, showing all property coming into the conservator’s control, itemized outgoing fees and expenses, and the ending balance for each year.
The Court may order the conservator to file a financial plan, showing all expected resources and income, anticipated expenses, and how the property will be invested during the coming year. The conservator is a fiduciary, and held to high standards of honesty and loyalty to the protected person. The conservator is entitled to a reasonable fee for time and services rendered.
The Court reviews each filing to see that the documents are accurate and complete. If the inventory, accounting or financial plan appears to be questionable, the Court can require an amended filing, conduct a hearing, or take any other action needed to safeguard the protected person’s property.
There are other ways to provide safe management of an incapacitated person’s finances. A properly executed power of attorney can provide for financial management without court involvement. In certain situations, the Court may authorize a parent or guardian to make a specific investment with a child’s funds, or put a minor child’s property into a trust. This type of petition is a short-term proceeding. It is for one single transaction and, if allowed, avoids the need of a full conservatorship.
There are many variables to consider in choosing the right course of action. Making the right choice can save everyone a lot of time, money and stress. If you know someone who needs financial protection or assistance, consult with a knowledgeable attorney who can help you make and carry out the right decisions.
The estate planning and probate attorneys at DCDC Law represent clients throughout Massachusetts and in every county of Massachusetts including Norfolk County, Suffolk County, Worcester County, Bristol County, Middlesex County, Plymouth County, Hamden County, Essex County and Barnstable County. Our estate planning lawyers represent clients in Massachusetts’ largest communities including the cities of Boston, Worcester, Springfield, Lowell, Cambridge, Brockton, New Bedford, Fall River, Lynn, and Quincy.
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