This is the first post in a series of articles in which we will discuss conservatorships for residents of Hartford and other areas of Connecticut. When a loved one loses the mental capacity to properly care for themselves or manage their financial affairs, it can be devastating. An individual’s condition may deteriorate over a long period of time or be the result of an unexpected accident or illness. Absent a Power of Attorney or other valid advanced directives issued by the incapacitated person, their family and friends may not know how to legally handle the situation, and may disagree about who should be responsible or what actions would be in the person’s best interests. Under these circumstances, Connecticut law provides for the appointment of a conservator to handle matters on behalf of the individual. The purpose of this series is to provide general information about conservatorships in our state. Our lawyers have experience seeking conservator appointments and assisting those serving in such roles through the Probate Court process. If you need assistance, contact us today to speak to an attorney.
This series will address the following key subjects:
- What is an involuntary conservatorship in Connecticut
- When the Probate Court will appoint a conservator
- A conservator’s duties under Connecticut law
- The differences between a Power of Attorney and conservatorship
- Using a Power of Attorney to avoid a conservatorship
We frequently receive questions from clients who are unsure how to proceed when a loved one’s mental faculties begin to falter. As a result, we felt it was important to write about conservatorships for several reasons. First, the term “conservator” can have different meanings and roles from state to state. Connecticut law allows for conservators to be appointed to represent an adult individual who has been determined by the Probate Court to be mentally incompetent and unable to handle their affairs. Second, given the fact that the “conserved” individual’s rights to make personal decisions is being restricted and awarded to another, the Probate Court will carefully review evidence before appointing a conservator. Third, the Court will limit, to the extent possible, a conservator’s powers and maintain oversight of the conservator’s actions during the course of the appointment. The conservator must complete regular reporting, maintain a bond, and take other actions designed to protect the interests of the individual being assisted. Fourth, there are meaningful differences between naming an individual to act as one’s Power of Attorney versus having the Probate Court appoint someone as a conservator on your behalf. Considering these distinctions during estate planning can have a significant impact should you become incapacitated. Finally, while conservatorships can be helpful for many reasons, it may be preferable for many to avoid the public appointment process through the legal system. Creating a Power of Attorney may alleviate the need for a conservator.
Our probate attorneys understand that discussing the deterioration of a loved one’s mental competency and finances can be uncomfortable. We pride ourselves on our ability to provide effective legal advice with the sensitivity our clients deserve. If you need assistance, contact our office today to speak to a Hartford lawyer. We also service the areas of Wethersfield, New Britain, Rocky Hill, East and West Hartford, Bristol, Glastonbury, and Manchester, as well as the Middlesex County cities of Middletown and Cromwell.