This is the next post in our series on the instruments which allow Hartford, Connecticut individuals to make decisions on behalf of a loved one or a family member. Our last article discussed when to choose a power of attorney or a conservatorship. It is important that the former is appropriate in situations where one is voluntarily delegating decision-making authority. The latter is appropriate in instances where an individual is not capable of making decisions on their own behalf. In this article we discuss the limitations which typically exist upon each of these instruments. If you are in need of assistance, then contact us today to speak with an estate planning lawyer.
Connecticut powers of attorneys and conservatorships will have limitations
Powers of attorney and conservatorships will each have clearly delineated limitations. The documents which create a power of attorney, for example, will clearly define the decision-making authority of the fiduciary. They may limit financial decision-making power to simply paying recurring monthly bills or they may enable an individual to sign contracts, enter into loan agreements, and more. They can also specify instances in which one may, or may not, make decisions regarding medical care. Conservatorships, which are created by Court Order, will also clearly spell out what decisions one may, and may not make. Generally, conservatorships have broad decision-making powers. There are two types of conservatorships which include Conservator of the Person and Conservator of the Estate. Most of the time, the fiduciary is both. The Conservator of the Person handles the personal affairs of the ward such as where he or she will live, medical decisions involving the ward’s care, and the general daily needs of the ward. The Conservator of the Estate will handle the financial matters pertaining to the ward.
When acting under either a Power of Attorney document (POA) or Court issued Conservatorship documents, the fiduciary will be required to show the original documents to banking institutions, insurance companies, hospitals, etc. Copies of the fiduciary paperwork will be made for the institution’s files and the originals handed back to the fiduciary. Always get the originals back as typically there is only one set of original documents and, as stated, they are required to be shown each time new action is required to be taken on behalf of the ward.
With a power of attorney, the individual who is giving the authority gets to limit the boundaries of the authority. For example, someone who is undergoing serious medical care may wish to give a family member the authority to pay their bills, but not to sell their assets. The Power of Attorney document (POA) can limit the fiduciary to accessing only their checking account. There is no court oversight as to the activities of someone acting under a POA. With a Conservatorship, by contrast, the Court is granting authority over someone’s affairs and generally that authority is broad. The Court, however, does oversee the activities of the conservator requiring the filing of periodic accountings and attendance at hearings to discuss the ward’s status.
Powers of attorney and conservators can be challenged for exceeding their Authority
It is possible to challenge a power of attorney or conservator who is attempting to exceed the authority which has been granted to them. If an individual exceeds the authority, then the first step is to bring the matter to the attention of the Probate Court. If the case involves a power of attorney, this will be done by filing a lawsuit. If the matter involves a conservatorship, then there will be an existing Probate Court matter in which the issue can be raised. How to deal with such a situation will always depend on the specific facts of the case and it is important that you retain an experienced attorney to assist you. It is important that you retain counsel immediately if you are concerned about any abuse of power because the longer the situation goes on, the greater the damage.
If you need assistance with a power of attorney (POA) or conservatorship then contact our Hartford estate planning lawyers today. Our firm has been serving the community for decades and we take great pride in the level of representation which we provide. We understand that this is a serious time in your life and we will give your case the attention it deserves. We also service the Connecticut 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.