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What is a Conservatorship?

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Leon is 82-years-old and lives alone.  Through the years, he amassed a large stock portfolio and ownership in several real estate investments.  His memory is great and he remains intelligent and alert.  Unfortunately, his vision is failing him.  Leon is unable to review and monitor the many reports he receives weekly from various stock brokers and managements agents.  He is beginning to lose his passion for managing his assets.  However, Leon doesn’t want to liquidate his stocks and real estate as the income provides a nice retirement.  How can he get help without risking loss of his assets?  Moreover, how can he control or even terminate the arrangement if he doesn’t like it?  A conservatorship is a possible solution.

What is a Conservatorship in Ohio?

Conservatorships, first established in Ohio in 1990, are voluntary trust relationships whereby one party, known as a conservator, acts with court supervision for a competent, but physically infirm adult, who is called the conservatee.  The decision to establish a conservatorship is in the conservatee’s sole discretion.  In fact, a probate court must determine that the decision to establish a conservatorship is absolutely voluntary.  The conservatee chooses the person who will help him and what assets will be included.  The conservatee also decides when to terminate the conservatorship.

  • The conservatorship is initiated by filing a petition in probate court.
  • The conservatee nominates a suitable person to act as conservator. 

The court then conducts a hearing to determine whether the petition was filed voluntarily and whether the proposed conservator is a suitable candidate.

If the court is satisfied with the petition, it will issue an order of conservatorship setting forth the specific duties and assets included in the conservatorship.  The court will set a bond in an adequate amount to protect the value of the conservatee’s assets.  

Basic guardianship laws govern the conservator’s duties.  For example, a conservator must file with the court an inventory of assets and regular written accounts detailing all financial dealings.  Unlike a guardianship, however, the conservatee can decide which of the guardianship duties and procedures the conservator must follow.  He can establish how long the conservatorship will exist.  It can be a definite or indefinite period of time.  He can designate which assets are included.  Unlike a guardianship, the conservatee retains control of the process. The court will review the reports to make sure the conservator is acting properly and with due care.

The law is very clear that neither the establishment of a conservatorship nor the filing of a petition for conservatorship shall be considered as evidence of mental impairment.  The very core principle of conservatorships is that the conservatee is mentally competent to handle his affairs.  His limitations are physical only.

If a conservatee is concerned that the public may view his asset information, he may request that the court place sensitive records in confidential status.  The conservatee may modify the powers of a conservator at any time by filing a motion with the court.  Likewise, the conservatee may terminate the conservatorship by serving the conservator with a written termination notice and filing it with the court within fourteen days of its execution. The conservatorship will also terminate upon the conservatee’s death or upon a judicial determination of mental incompetency.   

If you are interested in a conservatorship, the lawyers in our firm in Medina, Ohio are able to review the specifics of your assets and to make sure the conservatorship petition is carefully tailored in the most advantageous way.  

Contact an Attorney in Medina, OhioMichael Laribee is a partner in the Medina law firm Laribee & Hertrick, LLP.  This article is intended to provide general information about the law. It is not intended to give legal advice.  Readers are urged to seek advice from an attorney regarding their specific estate planning or conservatorship issues and rights.
Need a lawyer or have legal questions? Contact Attorneys in Medina from Laribee & Hertrick, LLP. 
 
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