A conservatorship proceeding begins when someone files a petition in the Superior Court alleging that the appointment of a conservator is required. A family member, a friend, or sometimes even a professional conservator may be the petitioner. Because the law requires that the petition be personally served on the proposed conservator, we strive to draft these petitions so that the dignity and self-worth of the individual is not undermined, regardless of their level of incapacity.
While estate planning documents such as “durable powers of attorneys” are helpful in avoiding conservatorships, most of the conservatorships we become involved in arise in situations where an elderly person’s needs for health care supervision and financial management exceed the abilities of their closest friends and relatives. Of course, we have dealt with elder-abuse cases, but would you believe that it is far more common for conservatorships to be required because an elderly person has, in fact, neglected to take care of him or herself?
We have been involved in several hundred conservatorships representing the family members, the conservators (professional and nonprofessional), and the conservatees, once upon a time.
As of now, we still charge only $360.00 an hour for work in conservatorship proceedings. Conservators and attorneys must wait for specific court approval before they are paid for their services. This is one of the ways that the court attempts to protect children, incompetent adults and developmentally disabled people.
When family or friends are not available to intervene at the point where a conservatorship is needed, we have recommended that a private professional conservator be appointed. This is a method to reduce family friction and reduce litigation expenses between family members who do not get along.