What is a conservator (or guardian) anyway?

You may have heard that Zsa Zsa Gabor’s daughter is asking a California court to be appointed “Conservator” over her mother’s affairs.  New Mexico uses the term conservator while Texas uses the term “Guardianship of the Estate” to mean that a court is appointing someone to manage another person’s finances.

Conservatorship/Guardianship isn’t just for millionaires.  Working class people ask the court for authority to manage their grandparents, parents, aunts, and uncles too.  One common reason for court involvement is when banks or other financial institutions freeze accounts because the account owner is incapacitated/incompetent.  Another common reason is when relatives are competing to control assets.

We can avoid conservatorship/guardianship by having a Durable Power of Attorney and Medical Power of Attorney or by having a Living Revocable Trust.  Planning in advance will save time and will ensure that your preferences are legally enforceable.  Your preferences can be as practical or as ridiculous as you wish…as long as it is legal!

2 comments on “What is a conservator (or guardian) anyway?

  1. Pat
    March 21, 2012 at 4:03 am #

    If an aging parent wants to have a say in who will control their estate and person, I encourage everyone to make these decisions early, rather than wait for a court to decide. Often times, families are torn apart needlessly because these decisions were left to a Judge to dictate.

  2. Faye Thompson
    March 23, 2012 at 11:19 am #

    “Do it now”! That’s what I have to say. All of life can change in a second, and you never know when it’s coming!

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