When a person is unable to make decisions for themselves about important decisions in their life, whether they be legal or financial, the courts may assign a guardian or protector to assist. This relationship between someone with an impairment and substitute adult is known as a “conservatorship” in Massachusetts. But what is a conservatorship and what rights do conservators have?
What is a Conservatorship?
A conservatorship is a legal concept in which the probate or family law court appoints a protector or legal guardian for a person who is deemed to suffer impairment to their faculties, either through a physical or mental ailment or the limitation or as a result of old age. The role of the conservator is to manage the affairs, both financially and legally, with the person under their care called their “ward”, or protected person.
What Rights Do Conservators Have?
As a protector of the ward, the conservator has significant rights over the protected person’s assets and needs. The conservator has the legal authority to collect, hold, and retain the assets of the protected person, as well as the ability to allocate those assets to pay off any debts or bills the ward may have.
While conservators have the right to handle the financial transactions and asset management for a protected person, under Massachusetts law they cannot allow the ward’s assets to co-mingle with their own, or flow through an account containing both party’s assets. The conservator must segregate all assets into an account which reflects the legal standing of the relationship between the conservator and the protected person.
Additionally, conservators are not financially liable for a protected person in Massachusetts. While the conservator has legal control over the ward’s assets and financial dealings, the conservator does not have to worry about their assets or finances being used to settle accounts or debts for the protected person. This is why state law explicitly prohibits the co-mingling of accounts and assets.
Massachusetts law requires conservators to provide a full and thorough accounting of the ward’s assets, debts, and liabilities, as well as their tax filings each year. This process is to ensure that the conservator is adequately discharging their duties, and not taking advantage of the protected person. Such depositions may also require a doctor’s note, showing the mental incapacitation of the ward continues, and the conservatorship should remain intact.
Contact an Experienced Family Law Attorney Today
Massachusetts conservatorship and guardian law can be complicated. If you have questions or concerns about a loved one, or if you have been asked to be conservator, make sure you speak with an experienced family law attorney today. Make sure you contact the Shapiro Law Group. Our family law attorneys are versed in all facets of family and probate law, including conservatorships. Pick up the phone and call the dedicated Massachusetts family law and probate attorneys at Shapiro Law Group at 339-200-9933 today.