Many people believe that estate planning is solely preparing someone’s estate for when they die. Of course, estate planning is far more complicated. In fact, estate planning also requires preparing for individuals, their estate and their person, if they become incapacitated. No one wants to think that a time will come when they cannot handle their own affairs but the truth is, as our population ages, it is likely that someone will need to handle your financial affairs as well as your well-being. With that said, not all incapacitated individuals are older. In fact, more and more children with special needs are of the age of majority. This means that in the eyes of the law, at eighteen, these children are adults. Obviously, many adults with special needs are unable to enter into contracts. For example, they are not capable of understanding a credit card, how it works, and how payments need to be made. As a result, many parents file for a Conservatorship.
In a Conservatorship proceeding, the petitioners, usually the parents, request that the court appoint them as the Conservators. The court will grant the Conservators certain powers, or authority, to make decisions on behalf of the Conservatee (the adult with special needs). There are two main categories of powers: powers over the person (the individual) and powers over the person’s estate (the finances). The powers over the person can include the authority to make health care decisions. The powers over the person’s estate can include controlling the individual’s social security payments or other cash resources. The goal of the conservatorship is to protect the conservatee (from those that might take advantage of them) and allow the conservatee to live a full life.
If you think you may need a conservatorship for a child with special needs or if you want to prepare for your own potential incapacity or that of a loved one, please do not hesitate to contact our office.