How to Get a Conservatorship for a Parent

Gold Leaf Estate Planning, LLC

POSTED ON: April 3, 2024
conservatorship for a parent
Conservatorship focuses on financial affairs, managing assets and handling financial decisions for someone unable to do so.

One woman felt she had no choice but to retain an attorney and petition the court for a conservatorship  for a parent to manage finances. Her father had been targeted by a family acquaintance who tried to isolate him from his family. The acquaintance then married the widower and promptly took over his bank accounts. She was also appointed as the trustee of his revocable trust, as explained in an article from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “When it’s the right time to pursue conservatorship for your loved one.”

Conservatorship concerns the financial affairs of a person, managing assets and handling financial decisions for someone who cannot do so for themselves, whether from illness, injury, or other types of incapacity. A guardian is more concerned with the well-being and personal care of an incapacitated individual or minor, including day-to-day decision-making and healthcare decisions.

For the family situation mentioned above, the daughter researched ways to protect her father from losing everything. All resources pointed to conservatorship as the solution. The family was able to protect the father’s assets, including the nearly $200,000 eventually needed to provide round-the-clock medical care during his final year of life.

One daughter served as legal guardian, while a third-party county conservator managed financial matters. The pressure was relieved from the woman and her siblings by deferring the money management to a professional. Having a neutral third party handle finances allows the siblings to focus on their father’s care.

A conservatorship or guardianship is court-supervised and established when a person is deemed incompetent. By contrast, a Power of Attorney is a voluntary arrangement made while the person is still competent, offering a less intrusive alternative without court involvement.

In some situations, even when a Power of Attorney is in place, a court-appointed guardianship or conservatorship becomes necessary.

A conservatorship may become necessary because of significant mental decline from diseases like Alzheimer’s or a person’s inability to manage their personal or financial affairs. Anyone considering a conservatorship for a loved one must speak with an estate planning attorney. The attorney should have experience in probate courts, estate law, conservatorship and guardianship law and an empathic understanding of family dynamics.

People are advised to create estate plans as soon as possible, including executing an advance directive for health care and a durable power of attorney. If they lose their mental capacity without having executed an estate plan, they leave themselves vulnerable to elder financial abuse and can also be subject to their children having to file a conservatorship for a parent.

Reference: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (March 1, 2024) “When it’s the right time to pursue conservatorship for your loved one”