A conservator is the person appointed to make financial and legal decisions for the ward. The guardian of a person often makes healthcare and living decisions for the ward. This distinction is important and makes sense because often a ward may have someone who is able to be a caretaker for them and make healthcare decisions, but who may not be the best choice to handle to ward’s assets. Sometimes, depending on the situation of the ward, the amount of the assets, and the oversight required, a family member may choose to serve as the guardian whereas an independent attorney or somebody else may act as the conservator. Speak with a DC guardianship lawyer to learn more about becoming a conservator.
How a Conservator Is Appointed in DC
The initial step in becoming a conservator requires petitioning the court and often supplying as much evidence of lack of capacity as you can—whether it is a doctor’s report or an examiner’s report with the initial petition. Depending on how you petition, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem—an attorney who will meet with the ward and interview the potential ward.
The court may also employ an independent examiner who will examine the ward to help determine whether the ward has the requisite capacity to make his or her own decisions.
Then there will often be an initial hearing and the court will review the answer of the guardian ad litem along with the petition to determine if the conservatorship proceeding is contested or not contested. Sometimes if all interested parties consent to the appointment of a guardian, the court may appoint a conservator at the initial hearing.
If Conservatorship Is Contested
In the event that a ward or his or her attorney contests the guardianship, then a trial may be set for additional evidence proving incapacity. If successfully appointed, the conservator submits to be fingerprinted by the DC police department and applies for a background check to be performed by the FBI.
In addition, the conservator files a conservatorship plan and initial inventory of the assets. Then, on an annual basis, the conservator provides an accounting of the income, expenses, gains, loses, and distributions made from the assets of the conservatorship to the court for review.
Qualifications and Requirements
A conservator in DC may not necessarily need to have any proven experience or knowledge of finances and assets. However, proven experience managing finances or special knowledge of finances may assist an individual in qualifying as a conservator and managing the assets of the conservatorship. However, a conservator may not have any proven experience of being bad with finances and assets. For example, conservators may be required to qualify for a bond. Often, it is difficult for someone who has previously declared bankruptcy to qualify for a bond. Criminal history may also be reviewed when petitioning to serve as a conservator.
The DC code provides an order of priority that the court reviews to determine who may serve as conservator. In addition, a conservator will generally be over the age of 18, with no serious criminal history. Often, conservators are family members or friends of the ward. If there is no one able or willing to serve, the court may appoint an independent conservator, such as an attorney. For more information about how a court may appoint a conservator, contact a DC guardianship attorney today.
Courts’ Role in Appointing Conservatorship in DC
Generally, the judge may ask those types of questions in an initial hearing in an uncontested guardianship proceeding. If a guardianship in DC is contested, evidence showing that the petitioner is the best choice to serve as conservator may be presented.