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Who needs a conservator and how is one appointed?

Most people are familiar with the concept of a guardian, especially when it concerns a child whose parents are somehow absent. Conservatorship, however, is often less understood even if some of the principles are similar to guardianship. Here are the answers to some of the most common questions we receive about conservators.

What are the functions of a conservator?

A conservator is responsible for the personal and financial obligations of a person or organization. A guardian, on the other hand, handles a person's medical and physical needs. Conservators are generally appointed by courts in response to a person's or organization's inability to make decisions on their own.

What sort of people need conservators?

Generally, conservators are needed when an individual is somehow unable to make rational, measured decisions. The individual may simply be too young to make sound financial decisions. Alternately, a mental disability or defect could be involved. Some people may always have a need for a conservator due to mental illness or condition of birth. Other people may eventually require a conservator due to a progressive disease or sudden injury that renders them unable to handle their own affairs.

How do I get appointed as a conservator?

Probate courts ultimately make the determination of who needs a conservator and who the conservator will be -- but your first step is to talk to an attorney about your concerns. An experienced attorney can help guide you through the process of becoming someone's conservator, help you understand more about the obligations of a conservator, and explain possible alternatives for your situation.

No two situations are exactly alike, so get specific legal guidance for your situation before you decide how to proceed.

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