Age and any number of diseases and conditions can prevent people from really understanding what’s going on around them. If they have money, they may not fully appreciate what it really means, and if they have property, they may neither appreciate that fact nor do what needs to be done to keep it. Take for example, an elderly man who tries to buy a Corvette that looks like one he owned 50 years ago, attempting to pay for it with a check for almost a thousand times more money than he had in his checking account. Is it time to start thinking about arranging for someone to handle his finances, so he – and his equally elderly spouse – don’t end up penniless? If so, contact an expert Sun City conservatorship lawyer at Gorman & Jones, PLC today.
A common way to protect adults who are no longer able to manage their assets is to have a conservator appointed. In Arizona, a conservator may be appointed by a court to handle the financial affairs of a person in need of protection if the court finds both that the protected person can no longer manage his own affairs and that this inability will:
In Arizona, conservatorship is different from guardianship. Conservators are tasked with handling the protected person’s finances and property while guardians are tasked with handling the decisions needed to protect the person’s health and general welfare. An incapacitated person may have both a conservator and a guardian, and the same person may serve in both roles.
If the incapacitated person was farsighted enough to have completed a valid Durable Power of Attorney covering financial matters, the person granted that power of attorney can simply take over without the need to have a court appoint a conservator. Note, however, that the power of attorney will have to have been completed before the person became incapacitated in order to be valid.
Since appointing a conservator necessarily deprives someone of the right to their own money and property, the process is a formal one. Any interested person can file a petition with the court, but notice of the proceeding has to be provided to the person alleged to be in need of protection. This “protected person” (the standard description of someone in need of a conservator) must have legal representation at the proceeding, and the court will appoint a Sun City conservatorship lawyer if the protected person doesn’t have one. By law, the court must arrange for a physician to examine the protected person and an investigator to interview the protected person and provide the court with a report prior to the hearing.
If the court ultimately orders that a conservator be appointed, the appointment may be general, authorizing the conservator to handle all of the protected person’s money and property, or for more limited purposes, or even for a single transaction.
While any person or entity can be appointed a conservator, the position is one that provides the conservator a great deal of power over someone else’s assets; therefore, the law takes some pains to ensure the conservator’s trustworthiness. The information the candidate will have to provide includes criminal history and information as to any previous instances of experience serving as a conservator. The court may also require a set of fingerprints to be used to obtain a complete criminal history.
After the conservator has been appointed, an interested party who believes the conservator is acting improperly can ask the court to replace the conservator or to further investigate the conservator’s actions.
As a rule, the conservator is not personally responsible for contracts or other agreements that are entered into as part of his official duties. It is only when the conservator is at fault in some manner in carrying out those duties that he may be held personally liable. That misconduct may range from an oversight or omission, such as failing to tell a third party that he is acting only in his capacity as a conservator, to active wrongdoing, such as theft or embezzlement.
The Sun City estate planning attorneys at Arizona law firm of Gorman & Jones, PLC, have more than 25 years of combined experience in providing quality legal service in estate planning and probate matters. Whether you are considering the need for a conservator for a relative or friend, wondering whether to accept the position of conservator, or concerned about the propriety of actions taken by a conservator, we can help. We’ll review the various options, make sure you understand the ramifications of each, and take the necessary steps to implement the option you choose. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.
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