Consider creating a conservatorship for your children as part of the estate planning process. A conservator is an individual who manages the financial affairs of another individual who cannot manage them him or herself. For a minor child, a conservator can manage his or her assets until he or she turns 18 and can take over this process. For an adult who is mentally or physically unable to make financial decisions, a conservator can step in to ensure that he or she is provided for.

Conservatorships versus Guardianships

The terms “conservatorship” and “guardianship” are sometimes used interchangeably.

Technically, they refer to two different types of care. In a guardianship, the party who provides the care is known as the guardian and the recipient of the care is known as the ward. A guardian makes personal decisions for the ward. With a conservatorship, the party providing the care is known as the conservator and the one who receives the care is the protected person. A conservator makes financial choices for his or her protected person.

An easy way to remember the difference between a guardian and a conservator is this: a guardian manages a person’s care, while a conservator manages his or her estate’s care. A few of the responsibilities a conservator may have include:

  • Overseeing the protected person’s investments;
  • Making purchases for the protected person;
  • Making sure the protected person’s debts and taxes are paid; and
  • Disburse money to the protected person as needed.

Creating a Conservatorship

A conservator must be approved by the court. Creating a conservatorship involves court hearings to determine the protected person’s level of disability and the conservator’s fitness for the role. After a conservatorship is established, the conservator is subject to court supervision to ensure that he or she is acting in the protected person’s best interest from a financial standpoint. When a conservator is named in a parent’s estate plans, hearings to determine his or her fitness for the role begin after the parent’s death. If the court finds the nominated individual cannot fulfill the role, it may appoint a different conservator for the disabled adult.

Conservatorship and Power of Attorney

Designating which of your loved ones have power of attorney for you is also an important part of estate planning. With this, you can designate a loved one to have financial power of attorney for you, which grants him or her the right to make financial decisions for you in the event you are unable to. With power of attorney, you can avoid having the court grant a conservator for you.

Work with a Chicago Conservatorship Lawyer to Better Understand Your Rights & Options

By granting power of attorney to a loved one, you can avoid becoming subject to a court-ordered conservatorship if you become incapacitated. With power of attorney, you can be more specific about which party has specific rights to make decisions for you and the circumstances surrounding those rights. Set up your initial consultation with an estate planning attorney today to learn more about this aspect of estate planning.

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