A conservatorship (known as a guardianship in Florida) exists when the finances and/or personal affairs of an adult are placed under the control of a conservator by a Probate Court.
A conservator can be an individual, a legally authorized municipal or state official, a nonprofit organization, or a business. However, neither a hospital nor a nursing home may be appointed a conservator.
There are two basic types of conservatorships involving the incapacity of a person. A “conservator of the person” is appointed to supervise the personal affairs of an individual who is found by the court to be unable to meet essential requirements for personal needs. Those needs may include, but are not limited to, food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, and safety. A “conservator of the estate” is appointed to supervise the financial affairs of an individual who is found by the court to be incapable of doing so to the extent that the assets of the person will be wasted unless adequate management is provided.
A person may be in need of both types of conservatorships. In that instance, two separate individuals may be appointed, one to serve as conservator of the person and the other to serve as conservator of the estate, or one person can be appointed to act in both capacities.
A conservatorship can either be voluntary of involuntary. With a voluntary conservatorship, the person to be conserved requests the appointment of a conservator. Under an involuntary conservatorship, someone other than the person to be conserved must petition the court for the appointment of a conservator. The person that is the subject of the proceedings is called the respondent. Before a conservator is appointed, notice must be given to the respondent and certain interested parties (such as a spouse, children, or other relatives) and the court, after conducting a hearing, must find by clear and convincing evidence that a conservatorship is warranted. If the respondent is unable to request or obtain an attorney, the court will appoint one.
The Watts Law Office can serve as a conservator, assist with the preparation of voluntary and involuntary petitions, and represent the interests of loved ones or the person that is the subject of conservatorship proceedings. In addition, it is possible to name a conservator in advance of incapacity. This requires certain formalities which can be part of an estate plan prepared by our office.
It is important to note that the necessity for the appointment of a conservator may be avoided all together through the use of a power of attorney and advance healthcare directive. We advise you to contact the Watts Law Office sooner than later to determine if you can use these planning tools.
However, many people simply are not competent to execute these documents. Sometimes a Conservatorship is the right answer. Whether you are faced with a voluntary or involuntary Conservator proceeding, petitioning for a Conservatorship can be a daunting task. When the need arises, the Watts Law Office is here to guide you through the process and assist you in carrying out your responsibilities as Conservator.
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