When individuals can no longer care for and make important decisions for themselves due to circumstances such as physical or mental disability and aging, the court assigns another person to be their conservator. The court usually appoints a family member or relative to care for the individual. But what exactly are the responsibilities of a conservator?
Conservator’s authority and responsibilities
The court appoints a conservator to care for a person with a diminished capacity. Specifically, the conservator has the following responsibilities:
- Sustenance and shelter: Typically, those with an appointed conservator can no longer care for themselves. Hence, the conservator is responsible for ensuring the conservatee receives their daily nutrition, appropriate clothing and shelter.
- Medical decisions: If the conservatee can no longer make decisions for themselves, the conservator may make medical choices for them if they deem it necessary. However, the court limits this legal authority when it comes to mentally ill conservatees, wherein conservators cannot decide on involuntary mental health treatment for them.
- Financial matters: The court may also authorize the conservator to handle financial matters for the conservatee, such as bills payments and managing their income, assets and investments.
Not all conservatorships have the same legal responsibilities. The court can approve conservatorship for a person or their estate or sometimes both.
Conservatee’s interests as the top priority
A conservatorship can be general or limited, temporary or permanent. The court decides on each case uniquely and determines authority based on each case’s relevant circumstances. At the end of each case, the court makes a decision based on what it thinks is best for the conservatee’s interests.