Types of Conservatorships

Conservatorships were created to afford protection for disabled individuals. Without a conservatorship, the law will consider every individual over the age of 18, or 21 in some states, to be a fully functioning adult. As a parent of a child with special needs, it can be beneficial to have some control over your adult child’s estate or personal choices.

A disabled adult who has difficulty managing his or her own affairs or making appropriate decisions will benefit from a conservatorship. To find out how to set one up, please call Stern Law, PLLC at (800) 462-5772 today for a free consultation.

Options for a conservatorship

Several types of conservatorship exist in order to provide your child with the amount of support and protection required, while maximizing independence. Each state will have its own specific laws governing conservatorships. The most common types of conservatorships are as follows:

  • Limited Conservatorship — This form of conservatorship is used for higher functioning adult children. In a limited conservatorship, the conservator, generally a parent, will be appointed if necessary and the conservator shall have only that power necessitated by the adult child’s limitations. Therefore, if the disabled adult is able to manage his or her income and daily living expenses, but not real estate or investment funds, the conservatorship shall only apply to such investments or real estate. Conservatorship is not only granted over the adult child’s estate; it can be over the child’s person as well. For instance, if the adult child is unable to make reasoned decisions concerning living situations, the conservatorship can be limited to the power to control the child’s housing.
  • Temporary Conservatorship — When a petition for appointment of conservator is pending, if the court finds that an urgent situation exists which will likely result in harm to the property, income, or entitlements of the disabled adult, on motion, the court may appoint a temporary conservator. The length of time for a temporary conservator is set by the individual state, but often is around 90 days. This can be extended for good cause. Temporary conservatorships can also be used where the disabled adult, also termed the ward, is merely suffering from a temporary condition that renders him or her unable to manage their affairs.
  • Full or Plenary Conservatorship — This type of conservatorship gives the conservator nearly total control over the ward’s affairs. For adult children with severe disabilities, this form of conservatorship will be the most helpful. Some of the rights the ward will no longer have include the right to: vote, dispose of property, make purchases, execute instruments, hold a driver’s license, enter into contractual relationships, and give or refuse consent to medical examinations or treatments. While this seems like a rather extreme measure, depending upon the degree of your child’s disability, it can offer significant protection from poor decision making or overreaching individuals.

The important thing to remember with conservatorships is that the court always approaches these actions with the goal of allowing the disabled adult to retain as much control over their affairs as possible. Further, the conservator is not entirely bound by the court’s decision. If, for instance, the court has stripped the ward of the ability to make purchases, the conservator could still allow the ward spending money or encourage their participation in money management as much as they are able.

A conservatorship is not intended to strip away power from the disabled adult; rather, it is designed to promote and protect the well-being of the individual while encouraging independence and self-reliance. To learn more about whether a conservatorship can benefit your adult child, please call (800) 462-5772 to contact Stern Law, PLLC today.

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