A conservatorship is a court case where a judge appoints a responsible person or organization (called the “conservator”) to care for another adult (called the “conservatee”) who cannot care for himself or herself or manage his or her own finances.
Conservator of the Person vs. Conservator of the Estate
A Conservator of the Person is appointed to make decisions about personal matters for the conservatee, including decisions about food, clothing, and residence.
A Conservator of the Estate is responsible for handling the financial affairs of the conservatee. The conservator has the power to collect the conservatee’s assets, pay bills, make investments, etc. However, the conservator must seek court supervision for major transactions, such as the purchase or sale of real property, borrowing money, and gifting of assets.
A conservatee can have different people as the conservator of person and estate or one person can serve in both functions. Some conservatees may have only a conservator of the person, or only a conservator of the estate.
Conservators are usually the children of the conservatee, or close relatives. If there is no one to take on the role of a conservator, then it is usually awarded to the Public Guardian. The public guardian is a public official who may be appointed to serve as a conservator when a person needs a conservatorship but no one has petitioned to be the conservator. The Public Guardian is required to apply for appointment as conservator for any person whose health or safety or estate is in imminent danger. Also, the court must order the public guardian to apply for conservatorship for anyone who appears to need a conservator if there is no one else who can do it and it would be in the best interest of the person.