When a vulnerable person is unable to manage their estate and/or make certain decisions regarding their care, it becomes necessary for the court to appoint a conservator or guardian. The basic difference between conservatorship and guardianship is in the powers they are granted by the court: conservators manage the assets of a vulnerable person’s estate while guardians make decisions regarding a person’s care.
You can learn more about the difference between conservators and guardians here.
There’s a lot to know about choosing a conservator and a guardian, and it’s not a choice that should be made lightly. Here are a few things to consider before making your decision.
#1: Choose Between a Personal Friend/Family Member and A Professional Conservator
While many people believe that a close personal friend or family member should be the one to step up and fill the role of conservator or guardian, this does not always have to be the case. There are companies and professionals that offer these services and are allowed by many courts to do so.
When selecting a professional conservator, make sure you understand how much they will charge and what services they will provide for their price.
#2: Trust is Essential
The most important aspect of choosing a conservator or guardian, whether you choose a person or an organization, is trust. The person or company in this role should be trusted not to commit fraud or mismanage funds for the vulnerable person.
If a professional is selected, make sure you have a solid understanding of how they normally conduct business. Communication is very important in this process. Some professionals take on too many clients in order to turn a profit and don’t do the best job. Make sure that they are reputable and able to handle the responsibility of being a conservator or guardian.
In addition, the court will usually conduct a background check to look for red flags in a company or person.
#3: Do They Understand the Responsibility?
If you are opting to go with a close family member or friend, it’s important that they understand the responsibilities and duties that they will be assuming. Conservatorships and guardianships take time, and the person filling the role should be able to handle the responsibility. They should also be aware that the compensation for being a conservator or guardian is not very high.
If you are looking into a company, make sure you ask how they plan to go about being a conservator or guardian. This will help you get an idea of what the company’s process is like.
#4: Do They Have the Necessary Skills?
Being a conservator or guardian requires at least a basic level of knowledge about money management and accounting. The courts usually require an annual accounting, and sometimes audits are conducted to ensure that fraud or mismanagement of funds aren’t taking place. It’s also a good idea to have some type of legal council as a resource, when needed.
When selecting a conservator, make sure they know and fully understand the expectations court has of them when they take on this role. Ask if they know what is expected of them.
#5: Are They Bondable?
Whether you choose an individual or a company, they must be bonded. You will have to work with a bonding agency to secure a surety bond before they can step into the role of a conservator or guardian. To learn more about the bonding process, or to quickly secure a bond, contact The Patrick J. Thomas Agency today.
Disclaimer: this is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. If you need legal counsel, please contact an attorney directly.