What is a Conservatorship?

More specifically, what is a Conservatorship over an adult person? 

Short Answer:  A Conservatorship is the Court directed process of appointing a person to manage the assets, funds, and income for an individual in need of assistance. 

Explanation:  When a person reaches a point where they are unable to make informed decisions for themselves, (for example that person may no longer be able to properly manage their bank accounts, pay their bills, or may be in danger of financial exploitation), a Conservatorship over that individual may be the appropriate action.  The process of obtaining a Conservatorship will require a Judge to review the situation, determine the appropriateness of the Conservatorship, and order that a Conservator be appointed to act on behalf of an individual in need of oversight. 

Note: Conservatorship should not be confused with Guardianship, which gives authority to act on one’s behalf regarding their personal needs such as living arrangements and medical care.

Caution:  Because a decision to grant Conservatorship will remove certain rights of an individual, Judges do not take the decision lightly and will want to be thoroughly convinced that the Conservatorship is the appropriate action to be taken.  Anyone who considers such an action should first determine whether there is a viable alternative to a Conservatorship that does not remove the rights of the individual such as implementing an already executed Durable Power of Attorney.  If there appears to be no alternative, the person taking such action should be thoroughly educated in the process of Conservatorship as well as the responsibilities of a Conservator as the Court will hold that person responsible for all decisions and actions taken.  Oftentimes engaging an experienced elder law attorney will provide the proposed Conservator with expertise needed to ensure all proper actions are taken before and after appointment and that the Conservator properly complies with the laws and regulations.

Please note that above question assumes Michigan law, rules, and regulations apply.  Also note that the above question is intended for education and informational purposes only and not intended as legal advice.  Every situation is vastly different and thus the need for one-on-one legal advice from an experienced attorney.  Every reader of this article is encouraged to seek out an experienced attorney to advise on their specific circumstances.