An attorney can help you prepare the initial pleadings to begin the conservatorship proceeding with the court, represent you at the hearing or the trial, and then help you prepare any of the supplemental accountings if you are appointed to serve as conservator. The person who wishes to be appointed as the conservator or guardian is typically the person that petitions the court to serve. Sometimes the petitioner is a family member. Other times, it may be a care provider, attorney, or accountant who wishes to serve as a guardian or conservator. A DC guardianship attorney can help you become a conservator by advising you of the responsibilities and fiduciary duties of a conservator.
Generally, a DC conservator’s duties are to manage the assets on behalf of the ward and provide money each month for the personal use and needs of the ward. A conservator’s duties may include paying any nursing home expenses or possibly establishing a patient’s account with the nursing home. A conservator may also be responsible for preparing and filing the ward’s income tax returns, or applying for public benefits on behalf of the ward.
Court Supervision of DC Conservators
The court continues to supervise the conservator’s duties and requires supplemental reporting throughout the term of the conservatorship. Typically, the initial step is to file a petition which recites the names and addresses of the interested individuals of the case, usually all of the family of the potential ward, the reason a conservatorship or guardianship is required, and information regarding the person who is requesting to serve as either guardian or conservator. Sometimes the initial pleadings will include doctor’s or psychologist’s reports that outline the potential ward’s lack of capacity.
How a DC Lawyer Can Help
After being appointed as a conservator, you are often required to file an inventory of the ward’s assets. A DC conservatorship attorney may help you begin to marshal those assets. An attorney can assist you in re-titling the assets to reflect the guardianship and valuing the assets as of the date of appointment. An attorney may also be able to assist you in establishing good record keeping so that the accountings required can be easily prepared. They will also provide information on the duties and responsibilities of a DC conservator.
An attorney may assist you in collecting evidence by evaluating what evidence may help support the claim that the adult lacks capacity to make his or her own legal, financial or health care decisions—whether that involves hiring an expert or getting affidavits from the ward’s treating physicians to outline the ward’s loss of capacity.
Avoiding DC Court Appointed Guardianship/Conservatorship
Often, planning for incapacity through a comprehensive estate plan may assist you in avoiding the necessity of a guardianship or conservatorship proceeding. Client’s often prefer to create a plan while they maintain the capacity to make and express their decisions. For example, if a client executes a durable power of attorney or an medical power of attorney, the need for a guardianship or conservatorship proceeding may be avoided. The client has the opportunity to discuss his or her wishes in the event of incapacity with the named attorney-in-fact or agent, and those individuals are better prepared to make decisions on behalf of the client in the event of an emergency.
In addition, even if a guardian or conservator is required in DC, those documents will typically nominate the individuals that you would wish to serve in either of those capacities. You have the opportunity of planning for incapacity long before it becomes an emergency situation.