A probate conservatorship is set up by the Probate Court to appoint a conservator of the person or of the estate. A conservatorship of the person is appropriate for someone who is unable to provide for his or her shelter, food, clothing, or medical needs. A conservatorship of the estate may be appropriate where a person is unable to handle their finances.
The conservator is the person appointed by the court to take care of the person or the estate. The conservator could be a family member or friend. The selection of the conservator is within the discretion of the Court. The conservatee if he or she has capacity may also nominate the person they wish to be their conservator.
Once the petition is filed with the Court to establish the conservatorship, the Court must determine from declarations or testimony of physicians or others whether the conservatee is incapable of taking care of their personal needs or their estate.
One of the ways to avoid the establishment of a conservatorship it to execute a revocable living trust with a power of attorney and a health care directive in which you give someone you trust the power to act for you if you become unable to take care of yourself or manage your estate.
A limited conservatorship is another type of conservatorship handled by the Probate Court. In that proceeding, the judge appoints a responsible person to act as a conservator for a developmentally disabled adult. Disabled individuals may be those with mental retardation, a brain injury, or autism. The powers are limited because often a developmentally disabled conservatee can manage some things for himself or herself. Some of the powers the court may give a limited conservator are the management of the developmentally disabled adult's finances, the ability to contract, ability to marry, and ability to make medical care decisions. Often the limited conservators are the parents or siblings of the developmentally disabled adult.