When a court sets up a conservatorship for a person who can no longer manage their own finances, the appointed conservator generally has control over that person's finances. So, a conservator has quite a bit of power.
However, this power is not without limits. There are certain things that, for the protection of individuals conservatorships are for, conservators here in Kalamazoo County are prohibited from doing, including:
- Commingling their assets with the assets of the person the conservatorship is for (the protected individual).
- Using assets from the protected individual's estate for personal purposes.
- Borrowing assets from the protected individual's estate for personal purposes.
- Willfully acting against the estate's best interests.
- Engaging in self-dealing.
- Engaging in conduct which violates the duties and standards of conduct they are subject to as a conservator. There are a wide range of duties that are placed on conservators, including duties: of loyalty, to avoid negligent management, to act as a prudent investor when engaging in investment activities for the estate and to file all required documents and records within the set deadlines.
These limits on conservator power are something a family may find quite reassuring when a conservatorship is set up for a loved one. However, these limits do not mean that the choice of what conservator a court appoints in a conservatorship proceeding is an unimportant one. Just because a conservator is subject to the above-mentioned rules doesn't necessarily mean they will follow them. All sorts of different factors can impact how likely a given individual would be to stick within their duties and the rules they are subject to if appointed as a conservator.
Thus, when a family is seeking a conservatorship for a loved one, it can be important for them to take steps, during the conservatorship proceedings, aimed at helping the court make the right decision when it comes to who to appoint as conservator. Attorneys can advise families that are seeking to have a conservator appointed for an incapacitated loved one on what sorts of arguments they may want to make and approaches they may want to take in conservatorship proceedings.