As we age, we experience a decline in our cognitive functions. For some, this can result in a significantly decreased ability to manage one's own personal affairs. Clearly, as a society, we want our elderly population to remain protected and cared for. This is why the law allows for conservatorships. This legal relationship plays an important role in the area of end of life law. See why it may be necessary to consider a conservatorship for one of your family members in their time of need.
The Conservator's Special Role
In essence, a conservatorship is akin to a guardianship. The two concepts differ in that a guardianship generally applies to the care of a minor. On the other hand, a conservatorship takes place when one adult assumes the financial management role for another. Typically, the conservator will allocate funds for monthly expenses, and see that financial obligations are met. This can include ensuring that payments are transmitted for rent, health-related costs and insurance. Basically, the conservator handles the business aspects of a subject's life.
The Typical Scenarios
There are some fairly common ways that a conservator comes into play. Older adults may suffer from mental conditions, such as dementia. They may even be able to handle daily living issues but need help remembering to cover financial obligations. The same goes for adults who suffer from learning disabilities or developmental issues. In such situations, the conservator acts as a financial guide.
Who Can Serve As Conservator
Initially, it can be difficult to determine who should serve as conservator. Usually, the preference is for a family member. However, there are some situations where this is not a possibility. In such a scenario, the best choice is a financially responsible person who has a trusted relationship with the person in need. This individual will also need to be willing to dedicate time and effort into learning the process which begins at Utah Code section 75-5-309. It is important to put a lot of consideration into this decision to make the right choice. You may also consult an estate attorney for further recommendations.
Other Distinctions From Guardianships
As mentioned, a guardian and conservator have different roles. A guardian is tasked with assisting a person with day-to-day living issues. In this sense, a guardian is what we usually refer to as a caretaker. A guardian isn't required to perform the care but is responsible for arranging for such assistance. Finally, guardians are usually in charge of making medical decisions for a minor who is incapable of acting alone. For more information about starting the guardianship process in Utah, you can peruse Utah Code Section 75-5-309.