What is a Conservatorship?

A conservatorship involves the appointment of a third party to manage the estate or assets of another where such person by reason of advanced age, illness of physical infirmity, is unable to care for or manage his property or who has become unable to provide for himself or others dependent upon him for support. A conservatorship differs from a guardianship inasmuch as the ward does not need to be judicially declared incompetent. In making such an application, the Court will respect the individual chosen by the conservatee, and in default, will appoint the individual’s spouse or children.

Once appointed, a conservator should keep adequate records regarding his or her management of the conservatee’s assets and should seek court approval to the extent important decisions are made, such as the sale of the conservatee’s residence, to avoid disputes with heirs or beneficiaries of the ward’s estate.

A conservatorship has become a very useful tool in assisting individuals with diminished capacity who are in need of assistance but are still able to make some decisions on their own behalf, and are a useful planning tool when capacity is threatened in the near future.