As you work through estate planning, you have likely heard of conservatorship. Choosing who will be your conservator is an important step in creating a plan for your future. The right person will be able to make decisions that reflect your will.
What does a conservator do?
A conservator is someone that you choose to handle some of your responsibilities if the courts determine that you are unable to handle them for yourself. There are two types of conservators:
Conservator of the estate: This conservator is put in charge of your financial resources if you are for any reason without the ability to handle them on your own. They will manage your financial estate, make sure debts are paid and make decisions about what is bought or sold.
Conservator of the person: This type of conservator deals with your personal needs rather than your financial situation. If you are incapacitated, they will make decisions about many of your medical treatments and make sure you have proper food, clothing, shelter and healthcare.
You can also appoint one person to be both your conservator of the estate and of the person. Also always appoint a backup conservator in case the primary conservator is unable or unwilling to serve.
What should you consider when choosing a conservator?
There are many different factors to consider when choosing who will be your conservator. Start by asking yourself these questions and discussing it with those close to you:
Do you trust this person?
Are they willing to be your conservator?
Do they have the ability to be your conservator (time, emotional capacity, etc.)?
Are they responsible with finances?
Are they organized?
Do they understand your business and finances?
Will they make decisions while considering what you want, even when it’s different from what they want?
Can they manage many different accounts?
Will they work well with your family and financial partners?
Can they make rational decisions while under emotional stress?
You should always talk with the people you are considering as your conservator. Be as upfront about the responsibilities that it entails as possible. It’s a good idea to also sit down with your potential conservator and your lawyer to make sure you’re both making the right decision.