No matter what your age is or where you are in life, it’s only natural to want to safeguard your hard-earned money and other assets you’ve accumulated through the years. While some older individuals have put their wealth toward retirement accounts, there are several options to protect your property. Conservatorships are one option.
Roles and responsibilities for conservators
A conservatorship is a fiduciary relationship where someone has the authority to make financial decisions on behalf of another individual (ward) who cannot act or decide independently. This authority can be temporary or permanent.
A conservator’s primary function is to manage the ward’s financial affairs. Powers can include:
- Applying for government assistance
- Accessing bank accounts and investments
- Managing and utilizing property
- Handling legal matters, including signing contracts
- Filing taxes
Under Georgia conservator laws, a person may serve as a conservator if they are not any of the following:
- Protected persons
- A person with a conflict of interest
- Owners or employees of a specific caregiving facility (unless they are related by blood, marriage or adoption)
Conservatorships can be vital in protecting a vulnerable person’s assets, but people in these roles also have a tremendous responsibility that they must take seriously. They must act in the best interests of their ward, keep accurate records and exercise care.
Thus, it is crucial that a trusted, capable party fulfill this role.
Controlling what you can
Having another person make financial decisions on your behalf can be a stressful experience, and no one wants to feel as though they have no control over their own lives and properties.
While the courts have the jurisdiction to appoint conservators, you can take steps to retain control over certain decisions by making them proactively. You can do this by creating an estate plan that clearly establishes your wishes, names people you would like to act on your behalf, and dictates what type of care you would or would not like.
Aside from resolving potential conflicts within the family, having an estate plan can ease the stress on your loved ones who may need to make difficult decisions.