A conservatorship is established when the court appoints an individual (the conservator) to have custody and control of the property of another individual (the ward) whose decision-making capacity is so impaired that they are unable to make, communicate or carry out important decisions concerning financial affairs. Under a general (or full) conservatorship, the conservator has the authority to make all financial management decisions on behalf of the ward, except those that require prior court approval. Under a limited conservatorship, the conservator has only those specific powers set by the court. A standby conservatorship may be established if an individual is currently able to handle his/her own financial affairs, but anticipates a time where a conservator may be necessary and chooses a specific person to serve as conservator if the need arises. Standby conservatorships only take effect upon the occurrence of an event specified in the petition.

monthly budget

Once appointed, the conservator is responsible for protecting and preserving the ward’s estate, which includes investing it prudently, accounting for it, performing all other duties required and delivering the assets of the ward to the entitled person(s) at the termination of the conservatorship. Unless otherwise limited by the documents establishing the conservatorship, a conservator has the authority to:

  • Review financial records and broker statements;

  • Manage bank accounts and use accounts to receive payments and make deposits;

  • Balance account ledgers and maintain a complete and accurate record of all funds flowing through the accounts;

  • File income tax returns; and

  • Locate and maintain deeds and insurance policies.

With prior court approval, the conservator may also:

  • Invest funds;

  • Execute leases on behalf of the ward; 

  • Make payments to nursing facilities, maintenance, welfare, education or to the legal guardian of the ward;

  • Make payments for the support of any person for whom the ward is legally liable;

  • Compromise or settle legal claims by or against the ward or conservator;

  • Make an election for the ward who is a surviving spouse;

  • Exercise the right to disclaim on behalf of the ward;

  • Make gifts on behalf of the ward; or

  • Breach contracts of the ward.

Upon court approval, a conservatorship may terminate if the conservator is removed or resigns, or when the ward reaches the age of majority, is determined to no longer need a conservator, dies, or has an estate whose assets no longer exceed the amount of charges and claims against it.