What should my family do if I need help with decision making and don’t have a Power of Attorney Instrument or Health Care Instructions?

You may be surprised to learn that your family will need to initiate a conservatorship proceeding through the Probate Court.

  • Conservatorship, in general. If there comes a time that you need help making financial or health care decisions, and you have not previously signed a Power of Attorney Instrument or Health Care Instructions, your family will need to ask the Probate Court to appoint someone to make decisions for you. That person is called a conservator.
  • Conservator of estate. A conservator of your estate is authorized to make financial decisions for you. Examples include routine activities such as endorsing checks payable to you and paying your bills. But, with Probate Court approval, your conservator can engage in more extraordinary activities such as selling your home, making withdrawals from your retirement account, and making gifts of assets to family members.
  • Conservator of person. A conservator of your person is authorized to make personal decisions for you. Examples include consenting to surgery, authorizing the release of medical records, deciding on the best place for you to live, and accessing/making entries in your social media accounts. The conservator of your person can be (but does not have to be) the same person who is the conservator of your estate.
  • Voluntary conservatorship. Connecticut Statutes and Probate Court Rules allow you to file an Application for a Voluntary Conservatorship. The Application tells the Probate Court you need help with decision making and asks the Probate Court to appoint the person/people you name in the Application to help you. In most cases, the Probate Court will appoint the person/people you have chosen.
  • Involuntary conservatorship. If a third party thinks you need help with decision making, that third party will file an Application for an Involuntary Conservatorship. An Involuntary Conservatorship cannot be established without medical evidence that you need help with decision making. If there is disagreement about who should be appointed as your conservator, the Probate Court will hear evidence and make a decision based upon what appears to be in your best interests.

 

 

If you are interested in learning more about conservatorship proceedings, please visit our website and read our blog for recent posts.  For advice specific to you or your family, please contact the office.  We would be glad to meet with you for a no hassle, no charge initial consultation, no matter how long it lasts.

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