When a loved one has dementia or a serious condition which impairs his or her ability to make medical decisions or attend to their personal needs and financial tasks, it is critical to have someone in place to assume these responsibilities.  However, taking over someone’s care and finances is not easy without their express consent or cooperation.   If the impaired person can no longer or refuses to communicate, it will be necessary to ask the court to intervene through the appointment of a conservator. Knowing how to get a conservatorship for a person with dementia or deteriorating health is essential to protecting their well-being

Petitioning for Conservatorship

The conservatorship process begins when an individual or entity files the necessary paperwork with the probate court.  Any interested person can file the documents, but the filing party is usually a spouse, adult child, another relative, or state or local agency.  The legal petition will include information about: the individual, reasons why alternatives are not appropriate in this case, their relatives, any medical providers and recent treatments, social service agencies which are involved with the person, any public benefits the individual is receiving, and other relevant information.  If you believe conservatorship is necessary because of your loved one’s cognitive functioning, you will need to be sure that evidence of the impairment is provided to the court.  This may include data such as medical records, social service information, and first-hand witness statements.

Filing the Petition and the Investigation

Once the petition is filed with the clerk of the probate court, a court date will be scheduled.  The proposed conservatee will need to be served with the petition by someone other than the petitioner. The individual’s spouse and close relatives must also be notified.  The probate court will assign an investigator to the case who will interview the proposed conservatee, their medical providers, relatives, and anyone else who may be able to provide insight into the person’s condition.

Conservatorship Hearing

The court will conduct a hearing which the individual must attend unless they are excused by the judge.  At this time, it will be determined if everyone has received proper notice and if it will be necessary for the court to appoint an attorney to represent the proposed conservatee.  The judge will conduct the hearing and hear evidence from the petitioner, conservatee (if contested) and consider the investigator’s findings. If the conservatorship is granted, a conservator will be appointed and he or she will purchase or download a Handbook for Conservators.  The appointed conservator must attend training, meet with the investigator, and report to the court regarding the conservatee’s condition.

Preparing to file for conservatorship and presenting the right evidence can be extremely complicated, and it is vital that you have the right guidance.  The best course of action is to contact a conservatorship attorney who can help you understand the process and gather the correct information for your case.  At the Law Office of Alice Salvo, we understand the issues which can arise when a loved one needs conservatorship and can help.  Contact us today for a consultation.