This is the next post in a series of articles discussing conservatorships in Hartford, Connecticut. Our previous article provided an overview of the topics to be discussed throughout this series. The use of the terms guardian, conservator, attorney-in-fact, Power of Attorney, can be confusing. Given the fact that some states use these terms for different purposes and define the roles given to these important representatives differently, this article will focus on Connecticut’s involuntary conservatorship definition and process. When a loved one loses the capacity to care for himself or handle financial decisions, Connecticut’s Probate process allows another competent adult to step in and provide the assistance that person needs. Working with a law firm experienced in these matters can help individuals navigate the Probate Court process and fully understand their rights and responsibilities. If you need assistance, contact our office to speak with an attorney.
Under Connecticut law, the Probate Court may grant a conservator the power to control and manage another adult’s financial or medical affairs. In the context of an involuntary conservatorship, an individual must request that the Probate Court appoint a conservator on the grounds that another person is mentally incompetent. If determined to be incompetent by the Judge, the conservator is given the ability to act on the conserved individual’s behalf. There are two types of conservatorships: a conservatorship of the person and a conservatorship of the estate. The first allows the appointee to make decisions related to the general care and well-being of the individual, such as living arrangements, food, clothing, and healthcare needs. The second grants the conservator the power to make financial decisions on the conserved individual’s behalf. Actions such as paying bills, managing investments, or buying or selling real estate might fall under this category. Depending upon the needs of the individual, the Probate Court may grant one or both types of conservatorships to one or more individuals or entities.
To obtain an involuntary conservatorship, the requesting individual, usually a family member or close friend, must apply for the appointment with the Probate Court. Following the application, the Court will schedule a hearing at which the requesting party must submit evidence including a completed Physician’s evaluation form to demonstrate the individual’s mental incapacity. The Judge will carefully review this information and determine whether a conservatorship is appropriate and how much power to grant to the conservator. Because the conserved person’s rights are being restricted without their consent, the Judge will attempt to grant the least amount of powers necessary to the conservator. The Probate Court will also carefully review who should be appointed to act as conservator, which may or may not ultimately be the requesting party. If, for instance, there is a disagreement between family members about who should be responsible or if the Judge believes a conflict of interest exists, they may appoint a third party. In some cases, disinterested individuals, often lawyers, act as conservators. In other cases, non-profit organizations provide conservatorship services. It is also important to understand that the Probate Court may terminate an involuntary conservatorship if the individual’s condition changes and they are determined to have regained competency.
If you need assistance with a probate matter, including an involuntary conservatorship, 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.