Conservatorships are the best way to protect a loved one when they become physically or mentally incapacitated. In other words, a conservatorship allows you to take control over another person’s finances, health, and well-being when they are incapable of doing it themselves, or when doing it themselves would cause them harm.
However, conservatorships can also be problematic or vehemently contested. Some may fight to keep you from becoming a conservator, and at other times, conservators can abuse the fiduciary duties of the conservatorship for personal gain.
Whatever the case, finding a knowledgeable attorney who can help navigate these issues may become necessary. But when do you know when to hire an attorney?
When the Process Becomes Too Overwhelming
Becoming a conservator, or fighting to end one, can be a stressful endeavor. Applying for conservatorship is a multi-step process that involves mountains of paperwork, court hearings, and investigations. One misstep and it could mean denial or having to start over. Finding an attorney who specializes in the conservatorships can help guide you through the entire process.
When Filing a Petition for Conservatorship and Delivering the Citation
Petitions (a motion to apply for conservatorship) and citations (notifications to all interested parties) are both critical components in applying for conservatorship. However, both the petition and citation must be filed by a neutral third party. Instead of asking your friend to file and deliver these documents, hire an attorney who understands the nuances of the petition and can create and deliver a legally enforceable citation.
When the Conservatee is Assigned One by the Judge
Before a conservatorship is granted, a judge may choose to speak to the conservatee. At any point the judge believes the conservatee needs a lawyer, they will appoint one for them. Hiring an attorney before the conservatee is asked to appear will provide better protection for their future interests.
When a Conservator Abuses Their Fiduciary Duties
If you are a conservatee and believe your conservator is exploiting their authority for personal gain, or acting in a way that is not in your best interest, you may want to contest the conservatorship. Whether that means ending the conservatorship or simply appointing a new conservator, an attorney can help you file the necessary paperwork, send out proper notices to interested parties, and aid in court hearings.
When a Conservator Oversteps Their Authority
Having a limited conservatorship means the conservator may only have authority over one aspect of a person’s life. If the conservator begins to control things that are not a part of the limited conservatorship, an attorney can help the conservatee regain the authority over aspects they can manage on their own. You may also seek advice if a conservator refuses to relinquish authority after a temporary conservatorship expires.
We all want to believe we can handle these personal situations alone. But knowing when to hire an experienced attorney to navigate the rough, emotional waters of conservatorship may be the best thing you can do for you or your loved one.