judge with gavel and paperThis is the first post in a series of articles which will discuss situations in which Hartford, Connecticut residents must determine whether a conservatorship or a power of attorney best fits their needs. We are writing on this topic as a number of situations can arise in which individuals need to make decisions on behalf of another. Such situations can cause confusion as to how one should proceed. The goal of our coming articles is to help eliminate such confusion by providing information which will help individuals better understand their options. It is also our goal to provide information which will assist with the selection of counsel. If you are in need of assistance then contact us today to speak with an estate planning lawyer.

We will be addressing a number of topics over our coming articles. Issues which we will discuss include:

  • When one should choose a conservatorship or a power of attorney
  • The limitations placed upon a conservator vs a power of attorney
  • How a power of attorney can reduce or eliminate the potential need for a conservatorship

We are addressing these topics for various reasons. First, it is not uncommon for individuals to be confused as to which of these instruments best fits their situation. The truth of the matter, however, is that they are each meant to address very different circumstances. A conservatorship is put in place by the Probate Court when an individual is determined to be incompetent or when an individual requests a voluntary conservatorship. A power of attorney, by contrast, is a delegation of authority by choice and does not require any orders of the Probate Court. Second, each of these options can place limitations on the fiduciary’s power; however, the power of attorney will act without any court oversight.  The power of attorney document can be tailored to limit the scope of the fiduciary’s power but it must contain such limitations in the document itself.  By contrast, the conservatorship is overseen by the Probate Court which will require accountings by the fiduciary and will require the fiduciary to get court orders authorizing certain actions before they are undertaken such as the sale of the ward’s real estate or the relocation of the ward to a new residence.

Creating a power of attorney, as part of a proper estate plan, can assist with ensuring that the financial and personal needs of the one making the estate plan will be met easily and immediately as no court order is necessary. Obviously, however, the one granting the power of attorney must trust the delegated fiduciary for the same reason, there is no court oversight.  Typically, a power of attorney instrument is regarded as a temporary measure to enable someone to delegate representative powers to a fiduciary on more of a short term basis. If an individual becomes incapacitated without likelihood of recuperation, the fiduciary should seek a conservatorship and file the necessary paperwork with the probate court.

If you are making plans for the future, then it is important that you speak with an estate planning attorney as soon as possible. Failing to properly prepare your estate plan, as well as your power of attorney, can result in an individual being given less, or more, power than was originally intended. This can lead to the instrument being challenged in court as well as infighting amongst family members. Our Hartford attorneys have extensive experience in estate planning and we consider it our job to help ensure that you have created a legal framework which meets your needs. Contact us online or by telephone to schedule an initial consultation. 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.