A Review of Conservatorships Following the Britney Spears Case

Much attention has been paid the last year to the conservatorship of Britney Spears. A judge this year recently denied a 

request to remove Spears’ father as her conservator. Consequently, some people expect that Brittney Spears will soon seek for the court to end her conservatorship entirely. Due to this case, many people have begun to consider whether a conservatorship might be right for them or their loved one. This article reviews some of the most common questions that people have about conservatorships and the role that they can play in estate planning.


What A Conservatorship Is


Conservatorships refer to legal relationships that occur when a probate court appoints an individual to manage the personal finances of a person who cannot do so due to incapacity. The length of time that a conservatorship lasts is indefinite, but in the case of many elderly individuals, conservatorships last until the individual passes away. While conservatorships can be designated in advance, courts also sometimes appoint conservators if an individual is not able to manage his or her property or if the subject has assets that will be wasted or depreciate if not used properly.


Conservators Have Important Roles


After a court appoints a conservator, the subject of the conservatorship no longer has the authority to manage their finances. Instead, the conservator now has the power to manage the subject’s finances and other property in a manner that benefits the subject. A conservator has a duty to the subject of loyalty and is viewed as a fiduciary to the ward. A fiduciary is someone who has a financial relationship with another. This means that a conservator cannot act in a way that the individual personally benefits from the subject’s assets. Following an appointment as conservator, a conservator must both prepare and file with the court an inventory of the assets subject to the conservatorship. A conservatory additionally must file an annual accounting statement to reveal both disbursements and receipts from the subject’s estate. 


Situations Where a Conservatorship Is a Good Idea


A conservator can be an appropriate selection in several situations, which include:

  • A person has difficulty paying their bills. Conservators are most commonly needed when an incapacitated individual is no longer able to pay his or her bills due to mental incapacity. A person who is appointed conservator in these situations can collect assets and pay bills for the incapacitated individual.
  • A person cannot take care of himself or herself. Incapacitated individuals sometimes do not provide themselves with adequate care. These individuals are unable to perform various daily living activities including dressing or grooming themselves. A conservator in this situation can make sure the subject takes adequate care of themselves. 
  • A person needs help with Medicaid planning. The care of an incapacitated individual is often costly and frequently can add up to thousands of dollars a month. If the assets of an incapacitated individual are placed in a trust, it’s frequently possible for a person to qualify for Medicaid. Courts sometimes authorize conservators to take the necessary actions to help an incapacitated individual qualify for Medicaid. 


Speak with a Knowledgeable Elder Law Attorney

If you’re interested in utilizing a conservatorship, one of the best things you can do is to speak with a knowledgeable lawyer. Contact Ettinger Law Firm today to schedule a free case evaluation.

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