What IS a Conservator? What you need to know…
A conservator is a person who has been appointed by the courts in Arizona to conserve the assets of another person. A person who has become unable–either permanently or temporarily–to make his or her own financial decisions may have a conservator named to help them pay bills, manage finances and assure they are not taken advantage of. Anyone who is deemed responsible and capable by the courts can be appointed.
When someone becomes incapacitated, the bank accounts and assets are likely to be frozen when the financial institution learns about the incapacity. It is a means to protect the assets so that no looting of the incapacitated person’s finances can occur. The problem with this is that even those with admirable motives are unable to access the funds to keep the person’s bills paid and current. When this happens and the person has not arranged to have a power of attorney named, the only real option is to petition the court for conservator status.
What Does the Conservator Do?
- File an inventory of the ward’s property within 90 days
- Provide an accounting of activity no less than once a year
- Protect the assets of the ward by investing according to the Prudent Investor Rule
- Avoid any self-dealing and conflict of interest
How does someone get appointed as a Conservator?
The person seeking conservatorship must file a petition in Probate Court requesting to be approved. Then, the conservator may petition to name the attorney, physician and visitors for the ward and then notify the ward’s relatives of the appointments. If the case is not contested, an order is then presented to the judge to sign along with evidence from the physician at the non-contested evidentiary hearing. After the judge signs the order, the conservator files a bond and requests the Clerk of the Court to issue “Letters”. The next step is for the new conservator to file the inventory and a budget for the ward.
The conservator status remains in effect until the ward dies. At that time, the conservatorship ends unless the conservator successfully wins a conversion to be personal representative through the court. The conservatorship could end sooner if the ward or any other interested party applies to make a change. Regardless of whether the ward dies or is successful in ending the conservatorship, the court requires he or she file a final accounting to be approved by the judge.
It is common for a person to secure the help of a probate attorney when seeking conservatorship. If you need help with a conservator matter, call our law firm today to schedule your first appointment.
Call our office today at (480) 418-8448.